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HMP Birmingham provides good service overall say monitors

Independent monitors have today reported that G4S-managed HMP Birmingham continues to “develop and improve” and provides a “good service” to those in its care

Today’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report shines a light on the complexity of the prison’s role serving courts in the West Midlands with the category-B Victorian prison managing 12,865 prisoner movements in and out of the establishment over the past year.  Despite that high level of “churn”, the Board said that it continued to be “impressed with the way staff respond to, and support, some of the most difficult individuals in society”.

Monitors reported “relentless” work among staff and senior managers to overcome the threat posed by synthetic cannabinoids - also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – but voiced concerns that the drugs remained a significant challenge and undermined good work rehabilitating and caring for prisoners. 

The Board has full access to prisoners, the building, staff and management and is charged with reporting annually on how the prison is meeting the standards and requirements placed on it.  Today's report comes after government data published in July showed that the prison is operating at the second highest level possible.   

Responding to today’s report, G4S Director for HMP Birmingham, Pete Small, said:

“This report underlines the complex role HMP Birmingham plays serving courts in the West Midlands and looking after a wide range of remand and newly sentenced prisoners, some of whom will never have been in prison before. It is encouraging that monitors recognise some of the excellent work delivered by the staff team to build relationships with prisoners and help to turn their lives around.

“Like prisons across the country, it remains a constant challenge to tackle new psychoactive substances (NPS) which have such a damaging impact on our community and put pressure on our staff, regime and healthcare professionals both inside and outside of the prison.  As this report recognises, our team is working relentlessly with partner agencies including West Midlands Police to catch people on the outside who throw in these drugs as well as rolling out a new Ministry of Justice testing regime and re-training our own sniffer dogs.      

“Safety and security remains our priority and we have strengthened engagement with prisoners through our elected Prison Council and violence reduction representatives on each wing to reduce incidences of violence. At the same time, I am proud that staff have continued to innovate and develop initiatives such as our prison choir and debating competition which support prisoners who want to engage positively with the regime and return to our communities ready to turn away from crime.”   

Notes for editors:

For more information, please contact Michael Baker on +44 (0)20 7963 3171 / +44 (0)7711 385 303 or

Prison Rating System (PRS) data released by the government in July showed that HMP Birmingham operates at a level 3, the second highest level possible.    

G4S has published a paper in partnership with think tank, Reform, on the challenges posed by new psychoactive substances. 

Visit the Independent Monitoring Board website for more information about their role.