Clarke plan could lead to privatised top-security jails

KENNETH CLARKE, the Home Secretary, is planning a big expansion of the Government's prison privatisation programme, which is likely to include jails housing top- security inmates.

Mr Clarke has told officials to draw up a list of between 12 and 20 institutions which could be privatised within the lifetime of this Parliament.

One of these seems certain to be Doncaster in South Yorkshire, which will be opened in 1994 as part of the present prison-building programme. This will have a unit containing top-security Category A inmates.

At a recent meeting with senior civil servants, Mr Clarke also floated the idea of allowing prisons to become self-governing trusts, a policy he introduced to the National Health Service as Secretary of State for Health.

So far, the Government has contracted out the management of the Wolds remand prison on Humberside and is inviting tenders for Blakenhurst, a local prison due to open in Hereford and Worcester next year.

Stephen Shaw, director of the Prison Reform Trust, described the new plans as 'far more radical than anything yet imagined. If implemented in full, they would represent a monumental leap in the dark.'

He pointed out that the decision to ask a private company to run the Wolds had been described by ministers as an experiment. 'It appears to be the shortest-run experiment in history,' he said.

Publicly, Mr Clarke has said only that he is considering an extension of the privatisation programme to existing establishments. However, his order to list at least 12 potential candidates - almost 10 per cent of the prison service - shows that the idea has taken root at the Home Office.

It is likely that prison governors could compete for contracts alongside private companies.

Ministers say that their policy of contracting out public services has brought wide-ranging benefits in a number of areas, from local to central government. There is no reason why this should not work for prisons, they believe.

But any move to contract out existing jails would certainly set the Government on a collision course with the Prison Officers' Association, one of the strongest trade unions in the country.

A high proportion of prison officers are members of the POA, who would fiercely resist attempts to rewrite their contracts or replace them with new employees.

Staff would also be wary of moves towards making prisons self-governing trusts, although it is by no means clear what this would entail. Lord Justice Woolf said in his report on the Strangeways riots that prison governors should be given greater autonomy to decide how they ran their jails.

Self-governing status could mean that they are given the power to hire and fire staff and set wage levels - something which would also meet with hostility from prison officers.

'This also calls into question the Government's plans to grant the Prisons Department agency status and move it to a new headquarters in Derby,' Mr Shaw said.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit