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by Tom Lansdell
BLACKLISTERS Carillion were blamed yesterday for the “squalid” state of a north London jail where prisoners are being subjected to “overcrowded” and “inhumane” conditions.
Inspectors singled out the outsourced provider, responsible for maintenance at HMP Pentonville, for failing to ensure basic decency at the Victorian prison, where they found broken toilets and leaking sewage.
Members of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which oversees the treatment of prisoners, made the findings after visiting the jail several days a week throughout the year.
In a damning report, the board said: “Aspects of the physical environment are squalid, with blocked toilets, leaking sewage, and broken facilities meaning prisoners regularly go without showers, clean clothes and hot food.
“The prison struggles to ensure the basics of decency’ largely due to the outsourced provider responsible for maintenance — Carillion.”
In light of Carillion’s shortcomings, the report concluded that “the contract is working neither for Pentonville nor the taxpayer.”
The report also outlined serious flaws at the prison, which were highlighted by the fatal stabbing of prisoner Jamal Mahmoud and the escape of cellmates Matthew Baker and James Whitlock last year.
Considerable criticism was directed at the prison’s dilapidated windows which the board said was exacerbating its drug problem.
“Until all 700 cell windows are replaced, contraband received by drone or thrown over the wall will continue to put staff and prisoners’ safety at risk,” the report stated.
The IMB called for more staff to be taken on at the category B prison to carry out its recommendations.
“Pentonville needs more prison officers on the landings and more nurses with the right expertise to assess risk,” it said.
A Carillion spokesman said: “The age and condition of Pentonville prison presents maintenance challenges which our people work hard to overcome.
“Although the level of reactive maintenance jobs has increased we have continued to improve our performance against the agreed targets.”
The privateers were among numerous building contractors involved in a large-scale blacklisting scandal of trade union members.
Last year Carillion was forced to compensate blacklisting victims to the tune of £10.2 million.
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