Let us be under no illusion, the Prison Service is yet one more public institution under attack by the unelected, unwanted coalition. The main thrust of union opposition to these reforms seems to be pensions and job cuts. Prison Officers normally belong to the Civil Service Pension Scheme. My views on tinkering with pensions are well known and recorded elsewhere. As I haven’t changed my views one iota I won’t repeat them here.
I will readily admit that privatisation of the Prison Service has largely passed me by, as I’m sure it may have done with you also. A little bit of digging however, unearths the fact that insidious creep is present here also.
In July 2011 it was announced that 2 prisons would close and 9 others put out to tender in a mass privatisation programme. How did I miss this?
The proposed prison closures constitute the much-praised resettlement jail, Latchmere House, in Richmond, west London, and Brockhill prison near Redditch.
4 prisons were previously put up for tender in March 2011 and one of them, Buckley Hall, stayed in the public sector, however the largest of the 4, Birmingham, went to our old friend G4s.
The prisons up for closure include HMP Lindholme, HMP Moorland and HMP Hatfield, all in Doncaster; HMP Wolds in East Yorkshire, which was the first private prison in Britain; HMP Acklington and HMP Castington, both near Morpeth in Northumberland; HMP Durham; HMP Onley near Rugby; and HMP Coldingley near Bisley, Surrey, which is a purpose-built training prison.
Already 12 of the existing 138 jails are run by the private sector. A further four new prisons are already earmarked to be built and run by the private sector.
In March 2012 the Guardian reported this; “The governor of three prisons in South Yorkshire has ordered all probation staff off the premises after discovering that the local probation trust had formed an alliance with the private security company, G4S, to take over the running of his jails.”
What on earth is going on?
Prisons closed = Job Losses, pure and simple.
Prisons Privatised = Uncertainty. Private companies such as G4S exist to please their shareholders and turn a profit. To do this they must surely pay less, pay fewer staff, or close prisons and ‘streamline’.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons public accounts committee said:
“The national offender management service is less than halfway through its cost cutting programme but is already lagging behind its target to curb spending by £884m before March 2015.
This figure must be hit if the Ministry of Justice is to stand any chance of achieving £2bn annual savings by the same deadline.”
The new justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is likely to push through a round of spending cuts and accelerating the move to greater privatisation in prisons and probation.
2015 again, everything has to be done by 2015, put it in your diaries.
Prison Closures and Fewer prison Officers = Reduced Safety for the public and staff. Not to mention, where do the Police and Courts put all those nasty criminals?
Prison Service Privatisation – it’s happening NOW. A good thing? You decide. If you think not, then badger your MP, get on his/her case. Turn up at his/her surgery and demand answers.
If you think it is a good idea, let us know your views via the Comments section so that we can all debate them.