Prison anger at privatisation plan

The Government is on a collision course with prison officers after announcing plans to privatise jails, sparking threats of industrial action.





Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said private sector contractors will run three prisons in England, with HMP Birmingham moving from the public sector to private contractor G4S from October.



Doncaster prison will become the first to be run on a "payment by results" basis, with contractor Serco getting its full payment only if reoffending rates are reduced, Mr Clarke told the Commons.



The new Featherstone 2 prison will be run by G4S but Buckley Hall in Rochdale will remain under the control of the Prison Service.



The Prison Officers Association said it would not rule out industrial action, describing the announcement as a "disgrace".



Hundreds of prison officers held a meeting outside Birmingham Prison minutes after the announcement was made in the Commons.











POA general secretary Steve Gillan told the Press Association: "This is a disgraceful decision which is politically driven and morally repulsive.



"I condemn the previous Labour government and the coalition for imposing this on loyal public sector workers.



"We will not make a knee-jerk reaction. We will study what we can do and take direction from our members, but we will not rule out industrial action."



Mr Gillan said he believed prison officers could embark on certain types of action even though striking has been made illegal.



"This is the wrong decision and politicians should hang their heads in shame. They are saying it is OK for shareholders to make a profit out of incarcerating prisoners.



"What will be next, I wonder - privatising the police?"



Mr Gillan said he believed the Prison Service would go into "meltdown", adding that the POA would resist any compulsory redundancies.











Mr Clarke confirmed to the Commons that military personnel were on stand-by if prison officers decided to take strike action.



"There always used to be contingency plans because governments have to have them because, unfortunately, if people are so unwise as to go into industrial action in prisons, it can rapidly become far worse than a normal strike because you can have violence and disorder amongst the prisoners in prison.



"We have contingency plans and the military are indeed involved. But I should make it clear that no-one is talking about a military takeover of our prisons. The prison governors will still be in charge and so will the Prison Service but it is only prudent to make sure that we do have the military prepared should it be required."



The Justice Secretary told MPs that the contest for the contracts would secure "significant" quality improvements and savings at all the establishments involved.



"This process shows that competition can deliver innovation, efficiency and better value for money for the taxpayer, but also that it can do so without compromising standards.



"Before the bids were evaluated for anything else, they needed to demonstrate their fundamental ability to provide safe and secure custodial services.



"I can confirm that, over the spending review period, the new contracts will deliver savings of over £21 million for the three existing prisons and, in the same period, the new Featherstone 2 prison will be delivered at £31 million less than the costs originally approved by the previous government.



"Cumulative savings over the lifetime of the contracts in the three existing prisons are a very impressive £216 million."



Under the changes announced today, Birmingham will be run by a private contractor after previously being run by the Prison Service.



Doncaster was previously run by Serco, but its new contract will only be fully paid if reconviction rates within a year of release are reduced by 5%.



The new contracts, including the Prison Service's deal to continue running Buckley Hall, will commence in October.



Featherstone 2 is a new jail opening near Wolverhampton and the G4S contract will begin in April 2012.



In a statement to MPs Mr Clarke said the competition process which led to today's announcement began under Labour in 2009.



As well as the four prisons whose contracts were announced today, Wellingborough was also earmarked for potential privatisation.



But Mr Clarke said Wellingborough was withdrawn from the competition process because extra spending was needed to secure its long-term future.

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
Sport
Romelu Lukaku scores during Everton's 3-0 win over Arsenal last season
LIVEFollow all the action as Everton take on Arsenal in the final Premier League game of the day
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition