Support our Nation today - please donate here

Parc Prison should be brought under state control, says ex-prisoner concerned about 10 deaths

20 Jun 2024 7 minute read
Leo Deacon

Martin Shipton

A former inmate at a private sector prison in Wales has backed calls for it to be “nationalised” following a spate of deaths and violent incidents.

On Saturday June 29 a demonstration is due to take place outside Parc Prison at Bridgend, where 10 prisoners have died so far this year.

While inquests have yet to take place, it is believed that some of the deaths are drug related, others are suicides and some were due to natural causes.

But the unusually high number of fatalities in a relatively short period has led to serious concerns being expressed for the safety of prisoners.

Leo Deacon, 23, from Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, was a prisoner in the jail’s youth wing until 2021 and his brother is currently an adult inmate. Both parts of the prison are run by the security firm G4S. The adult prison has around 600 members of staff and generally between 160 and 1700 prisoners. There are around 60 prisoners in the youth offenders section.

Bad conditions

Mr Deacon said: “I’m a moderator of a Facebook group called HMP Prisons Justice. The protest is being organised by families and friends concerned by the deaths in the prison and by what they consider to be bad conditions for prisoners. The aim is to remove G4S from the management of the prison.

“I’m worried for the safety of my brother, who is currently in Parc. I know there are times when prisoners are being locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day with as little as a flapjack and a pasty for lunch.

“Another person was seriously injured on Monday [of last week] being slashed in the face on evening association. Someone from B2 wing went over to someone’s cell window on B1 and the person on B1 wing slashed the B2 person’s face. Then on the weekend my brother, who was ill, asked to be checked on. An officer said they would do so and rang a family member of mine to say they had checked on him two hours later. We found out the next day when my brother rang another family member that he wasn’t checked on at all.

“Then two family members of mine went to see my brother on a visit only to be refused entry because the search dog indicated there was something on one of them. But nothing was found and the person the dog picked something up on offered to be strip searched but the officer said no and refused them both entry even though one had passed all the checks and the dog had picked nothing up on them. They’ve been told to wait for a letter from the head of security.

“Another visit is booked for next week but the G4S member of staff told my family member to f*** off. Swearing at members of the public is shocking. I heard someone else got refused entry and staff swearing at her and waving and smirking through the window.

“The new governor has given all prisoners £5 phone credit as a kind gesture but then talked about them being banged up all weekend commencing June 14 as not enough staff were available and there were different staff on the units every other day.

“I know drugs are brought in by staff. I’ve been a prisoner at Parc myself and saw it happen.”


He added: “Parc is a lot worse with less staff than other prisons. They don’t seem to let people have tag / Home Detention Curfew (HDC) and D category as easily as in other prisons. In fact it’s a lot harder. HDC is a scheme which allows some people to be released early from custody if they have a suitable address to go to. It is often called “tagging”. If you are released on HDC you will have rules to follow about where you can go and what time you have to be back at home.

“But I think they want to keep people in Parc so they get more money. They come up with bad excuses as to why you can’t have a lower security status – that doesn’t happen at Cardiff Prison. What I’m saying is that it feels G4S, aka Parc, wants to keep people in their establishment as long as they can as they are making a profit which is sad to hear. It’s wrong. I need the public to know that I think it’s shocking and wrong.

“I also don’t feel they want to rehabilitate prisoners in Parc. I know that other jails fail and errors are made but not as much as at Parc, from what I’ve seen. When I was a prisoner I felt safer at Cardiff Prison than at Parc. But when I was at Parc I did see a 15 year-old prisoner when I was on the youth wing assault a prison officer giving him a black eye.

“It’s fair to say that Parc Prison was good to me when I was there. It supported my mental health but it did seem they did not want to get people into education or employment. Cardiff, on the other hand, was very keen and driven to get people into work or education of some sort. And they started AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings in Cardiff jail back in 2023. I don’t think Parc does them which I think is really important.

“Two weeks ago I was on the phone to my brother in the prison when I heard a lot of shouting and banging. I’ve seen videos on Facebook showing a prison officer attacking an inmate. It took ages for other staff to arrive and then mattresses were being thrown out of cells and set alight. It seems to be out of control. People’s rehabilitation should always come first.”

Zero-tolerance policy

An HMP Parc spokesperson responded: “We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who have died recently at HMP Parc.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and use a range of tactics to tackle the ingress of drugs and reduce demand. This includes robust security measures for staff, visitors and prisoners.

“We are committed to maintaining the highest levels of care, and supporting our employees who ensure prisoners have access to education, and a work regime focused on rehabilitation.

“Prison staff quickly responded to an incident on Monday June 10 which required a prisoner to attend hospital. One prisoner suffered a facial injury.”

The spokesperson made a number of further points:

* We do not comment on security arrangements for visits at HMP Parc. Any decision taken to refuse a visit is done so in accordance with prison service rules.

* HMPPS (His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service) makes decisions about custody and HDC, not G4S.

* Allegations of any wrongdoing by a member of staff are thoroughly investigated.

* As with every other prison, we work closely with the Police and HMPPS counter-corruption to crack down on the small number of staff who break the rules.

* Purposeful activity on average exceeds 30 hours per week and those men who engage have longer periods out of their cells. (Definition: Purposeful activity is activity that is likely to benefit prisoners and support their rehabilitation such as work, training and education as well as recreational and social activities.)

* The number of staff supervising prisoners is in accordance with HMPPS requirements; nevertheless, we have a strategy in place to drive recruitment and retention.

* We urge relatives of those in our care to contact the prison through the usual channels to get accurate information regarding their loved ones, if they have a concern.

* In the event that you wish to make a complaint please contact our Secretariat Team:[email protected]

* In relation to the video shared, we have no concerns about the actions of the officer.

* On May 13 Justice Minister Edward Argar said in the House of Commons:

“At Parc the regime and time out of cell is in fact one of the most effective in the prison system with extensive periods out of cell being facilitated.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.