Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Cell Off

I think it was Not The nine O'Clock News that did a joke about Thatcher giving prisoners the opportunity to "buy their own cells", well hurrah for the current trend of eighties nostalgia because it's actually happening. Sort of.

Two police forces in Scotland are, according to the Scotsman, farming out their cells into the private sector. The lucky winners in this game are Group Four (renamed G4S so that people forget that kept letting prisoners escape) who's comments in the press appear to have provoked the normally supine Unison into threatening strike action. Or at least not ruling it out, which is pretty scary stuff I'm sure.

Group Four's managing director John Shaw diplomatically said that "Police forces in Scotland have a great track record of being very forward-thinking, compared to England and Wales" who presumably have not had meetings with him about this exciting business opportunity which includes constructing and staffing detention units and "portable cells, something I said would never happen in February 2009.

As Unison's Peter Velden says "Privatising custody suite officers would concern us greatly. They are valuable public servants and they should be kept in public service. If this saves money, it will be through cutting the guys' wages and cutting their allowances."

I think, given the record of privatised public services, it could also mean a severe degrading of the service - which in this case may mean more injuries, deaths and legal mishaps. In fact it's fair to say that organisations like Group Four (G4S) that make their money profiteering from formerly publicly owned utilities are nothing better than a bunch of criminals.

However, while I've heard of people having to dig their own graves I've not yet heard of criminals building their own cells. We live in hope.

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