Sodexo Justice Services - Provide No Service

Privatised Prison's? What a mess! And I will proceed to tell you all why. Sodexo Justice Services in fact provide no service, at least for offenders upon release. As most of you know, Prisoners Families Voices have sponsorship which allows me to travel to prison's and critique some of the wonderful HMP establishments in the UK.  The first 'snoopy' visit was two weeks ago at HMP Forest Bank. Now then, let me make this clear, the management at Forest Bank are excellent. I have no issue with them at all. However, I do have an issue with Sodexo Justice Services who it seems does not have the ability to answer to emails or complaints. Anyway, off I went on my journey to HMP Forest Bank. It was a freebie journey with someone attending an interview so I waited for this person in the visitors centre which was a mess. Hey, I am only being honest, but the receptionist was lovely. It's a large area with potential. A couple of family members were sat around with etched on their faces. There were three vending machines being actively used and a flat screen TV that wasn't in use. A bit of Emmerdale and Coronation Street wouldn't have gone amiss for those waiting, even a bit of low background music would have done, but it was deathly silent and depressing. Yawn, yawn yawn. I ventured out twice for a cigarette (filthy habit I know) and spoke to a few families waiting for a taxi to get home. Unless you are prepared to walk 30 minutes to the nearest bus stop, especially with young children and bad weather, then a taxi is needed hence why the visitors centre have a freephone taxi service. You would have thought that a multi-million pound company like Sodexo would provide a shuttle service to the bus stop, and it has probably been mentioned before, at least I hope it has, but has probably fallen on deaf ears as it would cost the company and they won't make any money out of families and blah blah blah. You see, it's all about money.
Anyhow, I finished puffing on my cigarette and went back in to the visitors centre. Within a couple of minutes, a gentleman came in and plonked an holdall near the table I was sat at. He looked anxious and asked a member of staff if there was a phone, to which a member of staff pointed at one of the taxi freephone's. It was approx 19.10pm and this gentleman had just been released from prison. He needed to ring a family member because his release was a surprise and I'd be stunned too if I'd have been released from prison at that time of a night. So yes, he needed to get hold of his family. But guess what? There was no pay phone in the building that the young man could use to do this and he was becoming highly agitated. After roughly 5 minutes of explaining his circumstances to the staff, one of them finally agreed to ring a member of is family to inform them that this guy had been released from prison. During this time, I was getting a little pissed off and would have intervened should this guy have got nowhere with his request. Actually, I thought it was a bloody disgrace that there are no pay phones for people in that area who had been released from prison, especially of a night time for Christ sake. No, I am not impressed with Sodexo and I find the company ignorant and incapable of discussing issues. HMP Bronzefield is run by this company too and that particular prison is a shambles. At PFV, we receive more complaints about Bronzefield than any other prison and the complaints are very worrying to the point of families actually refusing to visit their loved ones because the custody officers are bullies. Interestingly enough, I will be visiting HMP Bronzefield myself soon so I will be writing about it. Should be fun no doubt! So yes readers, I will be touring this year writing about various prison's and what my experiences with them have been like. My writings will be published on the blog and elsewhere in print so I am looking forward to the feedback. Please keep those emails coming in and in the meantime, take care.

                                                                    Prison Widow UK