Category Archives: Prison vans

Daily Mail back on the subject of prison vans

The Daily Mail are fond of attacking prisons and associated services as being overly luxurious and expensive even when what they are attacking fundamentally undermines the newspaper’s free market ideology. On the one hand the Daily Mail takes great pain to label the NHS an inefficient lumbering bureaucracy that can only be saved by immediate and complete privatisation, on the other they keep criticising the partial privatisation of services within the justice sector. A while back they distorted a story about how a prison van was driven 96 miles to transport a prisoner 60 yards to court – a story which David Cameron picked up and used to beat human rights with – and today they have another complaint: ‘Hope they’re not watching the Great Escape! Prison vans to get flatscreen TVs and DVD players ‘to keep anxious prisoners calm”.

The article claims that:

security firm G4S revealed it is installing televisions and DVDs in some vehicles.

The flatscreens are being introduced to reduce prisoners’ anxiety as they are transported between jails or to court appearances.

Straight away the Daily Mail is admitting it is only ‘some vehicles’ that are having the televisions fitted. In fact, the Daily Mail could be specific right from the beginning of the article as they do know exactly how many are going to be fitted:

A spokesman for G4S today said the scheme will only take place in Scotland and that only two out of 146 vans will be fitted with the technology.

Two vans, in Scotland, will be used to trial the technology. The reason for the trial is not just to simply ‘reduce prisoners’ anxiety’ but is rather targeted at:

Only prisoners with a particular risk of self-harming during journeys that last up to eight hours will be transported in them…

Mr Denny added: ‘It is feasible that a young person might need to travel from Central Scotland to the Highlands. That’s at least an eight-hour round trip.’

Obviously the Daily Mail then brings in a quote from someone concerned with the cost to the taxpayer, but again, this is just the free market in action. G4S are a private company, if they want to fit their vans with spa baths and mini nightclubs then it is no longer the concern of the taxpayer once the contract has been awarded. Surely this is just the kind of innovation that the Daily Mail believes private companies can bring to the (largely) publicly run NHS – the kind of ‘outside-the-box’ thinking that they should be applauding? After all, G4S hopes that:

the cost of fitting the technology will eventually save money spent repairing vehicle interiors damaged by violent inmates.

Isn’t this what private companies are supposed to be good at – and the public sector bad at – saving money by doing things differently?

It’s incredibly frustrating that the Daily Mail doesn’t even have the decency to be consistent with who or what it is attacking from one minute to the next. If the Daily Mail is in favour of a completely liberalised free market capitalism which expressly requires the services of the state to be privatised – which editorially, it clearly is – then it would be nice if the newspaper could at least stop complaining about the consequences of getting exactly what it wanted in the first place.