|Sunday, 23 September 2012 11:05|
PRISON staff from scandal-hit security firm G4S took the fingerprints and mugshots of children as young as two who visited inmates at a new jail.
The practice was stopped only after a string of complaints to jail bosses at HMP Oakwood, a privately run prison in Staffordshire that holds 1,605 offenders.
The Mail on Sunday has discovered that over-zealous staff forced children who were visiting family members to pose for pictures and have electronic fingerprints taken, which were then stored on a computer at the prison.
It heaps new embarrassment on G4S after the fiasco of their failure to provide enough security staff for the Olympics.
One complaint about the prison scanning came from a grandmother, who last May visited with her son-in-law’s children, including his two-year-old daughter.
She wrote anonymously to a prison newsletter, saying that her son-in-law was transferred to the new £150 million category C prison so his family – who live nearby – could visit him more easily.
It is believed children’s prints and pictures were taken at least 20 times before the practice was stopped. Prison sources have confirmed that several other relatives complained to G4S which runs the jail, though it still comes under Ministry of Justice jurisdiction.
Last night the Prison Reform Trust said that finger-scanning and photographing a two-year-old girl did not help security and could in fact cause problems by angering inmates.
The company lost out on £50 million and received widespread criticism.
Chief executive Nick Buckles, who earns £1.2 million a year, was forced to apologise in front of MPs and accepted full responsibility for the fiasco.