Only 45 prisoners have moved into a new £150 million jail in the West Midlands which was designed to hold 1,600 convicts after a series of breakdowns.
Showers that turn on in the middle of the night, electrics that short out when lights are turned off and a £7 million super-kitchen that has yet to produce any food are some of the teething troubles which have hit HMP Oakwood.
It is understood that, a month after it opened, the showpiece jail, designed to house convicts from Birmingham and the Black Country and operated by private firm G4S, contains only 45 prisoners because of the series of problems.
According to staff sources at the jail near Wolverhampton, every time lights are switched on in cell blocks the prison’s power system trips out.
Showers come on automatically even though no one is housed in the cells, spewing scalding water across the floors of the self-contained accommodation units without warning.
Because of water and power failures, the £7 million kitchens have remained unused so food for prisoners is brought in from outside contractors.
A source said the problems were being blamed on contractors employed by the Ministry of Justice.
Mark Leech, editor of prisoners’ newspaper Converse, said: "Sources at the prison have said that the electrics are in a real mess.
"Every time they switch on the lights the system trips off. Showers in each cell keep coming on automatically even though no one is locked in them and, as a result of the water and power failures, food for the prison is being brought in from a private contractor instead of being cooked in the £7 million state-of-the-art kitchen. Staff at the jail have said it’s a shambles."