We recognise the challenges of delivering FM related services within the current UK prison environment.
Gov Facility Services Ltd (GFSL) was established as part of the Ministry of Justice’s response to Carillion’s collapse. The primary aim of the business is to uphold critical facilities management services for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
The service that we acquired in February 2018 came with a number of challenges, it was not providing an acceptable level of service to the southern prisons estate, a large backlog of work needed to be addressed, and there had been a lack of investment in people and materials to carry out the work effectively. Staff numbers were insufficient and morale was low. Despite this and the further challenge associated with the rapid implementation of what in real terms was a new business, during that first 18 months we successfully delivered; improvements in planned and reactive works, transferred a workforce of around 1,000 staff, completed a significant amount of ongoing project investment works, and stabilised the existing supply chain, a number of whom had been severely affected by the Carillion collapse.
Our fundamental role is to keep our part of the prison estate in good working order and underpin HMPPS and the wider department in the provision of a safe and decent environment for all. This means delivering FM services on time, to quality, and to value. GFSL is achieving this through its people. Over the past 24 months, we have undertaken a substantial recruitment drive that has seen the business employ an additional c400+ staff and operatives, all of whom have been engaged to strengthen and support the true demands of what is in real terms an extremely challenging service. Our goal is to establish a high-quality, technically proficient workforce that is capable of delivering a value-driven service. We want to be recognised as an employer of choice within what is a very challenging marketplace.
We are also working to support HMPPS in its drive to rehabilitate offenders. To date, this has been driven via a programme which offers FM-related work placements that provide offenders with meaningful work experience and confidence while providing a value-for-money and a collaborative approach to improving decency in prisons. Roles vary from site to site and include painting, stores, electrical, plumbing, handyman and grounds. We have increased offender working hours from about c11,000 hours when we first commenced on our journey to c24,000 every week, an increase of over 100 per cent.
We are very proud to be launching a new apprenticeship programme, helping people to develop their skills and careers with up to 24 apprenticeships on offer as NVQ Level 3 Electrical Engineering Apprentices or Mechanical Maintenance Engineering Apprentices across the company. We are planning to double this number in our September 2021 intake.
It is widely recognised that the current UK prisons environment is an extremely challenging place to operate and that FM services will need to be delivered in a more controlled, efficient and cost-effective manner. Our goal is to develop a value-driven business that uses data and people to support a more qualitative and efficient customer-centric service, thus providing better longer-term value for the taxpayer.