The Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed new findings from polling firm Populus showing that half the public oppose privately run prisons. While just 37 per cent describe themselves as comfortable with private prisons, 49 per cent are uncomfortable, including 23 per cent very uncomfortable. The gap is even wider amongst women (32 per cent comfortable, 50 per cent uncomfortable) and the electorally crucial over-65 age group (32 per cent comfortable, 59 per cent uncomfortable).
When the specific example of G4S running a local prison is presented, just one in four (26 per cent) describe themselves as comfortable with the idea and even fewer (23 per cent) view the service as suitable for a payment by results approach.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which campaigns for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison, said: “It’s clear that the public understands the dangers of putting such a key service as the prison system into the hands of unaccountable companies, who are driven by cutting costs rather than cutting crime.
"The scandal of the Army having to step in to provide security at the Olympics after private firm G4S failed to do its job proves yet again that when private firms underperform, the public pays through the nose and safety is compromised. We shouldn’t be allowing the same thing in our prison system.”