HMP Liverpool: 'Squalid' jail's maintenance jobs doubled

HMP Liverpool
Image caption Prison buildings at HMP Liverpool were in a "worse state" than expected

The maintenance backlog at Liverpool prison "more than doubled" in three years since work was contracted out, MPs have heard.

HM Prisons and Probation Service chief executive Michael Spurr said "vandalism by prisoners" was partly to blame.

The jail was also "in a worse state" than expected when service provider Amey took over in 2015, he added.

Mr Spurr was called to give evidence to the Justice Select Committee after inspectors called the prison "squalid".

The committee heard Amey had a backlog of 1,000 maintenance jobs in 2016. This rose to 2,000 by September 2017, when HMP Liverpool held 1,155 men.

It was "primarily employed to take preventative measures" but the need for "reactive maintenance - to fix things that have gone wrong" had grown substantially.

Image copyright HMIP
Image caption The inspectors also found cells with broken windows and cracked glass

"We've had an increase in vandalism by prisoners themselves," he said.

'Eye off the ball'

"There was a cycle of prisoners in cells that were not good, vandalising those cells, and the staff accepting it rather than saying this is not acceptable."

He admitted more cells should have been "taken out of use" at HMP Liverpool, saying "we took our eye off the ball".

Mr Spurr said the contractor had taken on maintenance at 61 prisons in 2015, including Liverpool.

He said: "Buildings were in worse state than they had anticipated. There were issues for them about them having the staff to respond to that."

Kevin Miller, director of facilities management at Amey, said it now employed 32 people at the prison, 11 more than planned when the contract began.

He "fully accepted" the maintenance situation was not satisfactory. "There have been failings," he said.

Living conditions at the jail were "the worst inspectors had ever seen" during an unannounced visit in September last year.

They included rats, cockroaches, blocked toilets and pools of urine, their report revealed.

The running of the jail was strongly criticised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons who said: "We could see no credible plan to address these basic issues."

Figures from the National Offender Management Service show the prison's budget fell from almost £26m in 2011-12 to less than £21.5m in 16-17, a decrease of more than 17%.

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