Headline news this morning is a story that appears to show a prison completely out of control.
Now you may argue that it is being hyped up as an advert for a documentary produced by the same company, but in all seriousness, when the prisoners, rather than the officers run the site, things are dreadfully wrong.
For many years I have argued that companies should never be involved in the running of our penal system. The primary function of any prison is to contain the convicted and hence protect the public. Second to that is rehabilitation. (Although a Governor I spoke to claimed that rehabilitation on the inside never works.)
At no point should punishments handed out by the state, include a profit motive. You introduce profit motive as soon as you involve a private company.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Once profits have to be made, then costs get cut and that can lead to things like only the alarms on two doors out of four working. It means that educational programmes are an overhead. It means the learning of practical skills happens in the cell-block, with the wrong skills being learned rather than a craft or trade.
Successive governments have bought into the idea of washing their hands of the prison system. After all, if something goes wrong they immediately have someone else to blame. The company involved in running the prison.
The government needs to take responsibility and take the service back into public management and ensure the Minister for Prisons and Home Secretary are truly held accountable.
Only that way will the public be truly protected.