G4S PLC (LON:GFS) has won a 10-year contract to run the new 1,680-person Five Wells prison in Northamptonshire, just two years after the government was forced to step in and take back control of nearby HMP Birmingham. 

The FTSE 250 company won the contract following a competitive tender, it said on Tuesday, following a legal challenge against the government from rival bidder MTC.

Full revenues of the contract are expected to be around £300mln, with the doors are expected to open, and quickly slam shut, in early 2022.

Serial reoffender?

With 700 new jobs to manage and operate the contract, HMP Five Wells will be a ‘new generation’ category-C facility, “run with a strong focus on rehabilitation in order to break the cycle of reoffending”, G4S said. 

This comes despite the company having been fined more than 100 times for its previous prison contracts and having lost control of HMP Birmingham in 2016, resulting in serious riots and forcing the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to take control of the prison in August 2018, not to mention a £44mln fine earlier in 2020 to settle an electronic prisoner tagging fraud case.

An inspection of Birmingham prison under G4S’s watch found that prisoners used drink, drugs and violence with impunity and corridors were littered with cockroaches, blood and vomit.

But on Tuesday, G4S chief executive Ashley Almanza said: “Our Care and Rehabilitation team has worked incredibly hard to successfully build a positive culture and strong operational performance in this business and we are delighted that the Ministry of Justice has, through the award of this major contract, recognised G4S’s experience and expertise in Care and Rehabilitation services.”

G4S Regional CEO, UK and Middle East, Graham Levinsohn said: “In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, our mutual aim is to ensure that Five Wells becomes the blueprint for innovation, rehabilitation and modernisation in the prison service.

“It’s also very positive news for the local Northamptonshire community, with almost 700 new jobs to be created, and opportunities for local charities and businesses.”

G4S currently operates four custodial and detention facilities in England and Wales: HMP Altcourse in Liverpool, HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton, HMP Parc in Bridgend and HMP Rye Hill near Rugby.