Prisons a dangerous disgrace, says Hurd

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The Independent Online

Senior managers at the Prison Service have been criticised by Lord Hurd of Westwell for allowing some jails to become a "disgrace and a danger".

Senior managers at the Prison Service have been criticised by Lord Hurd of Westwell for allowing some jails to become a "disgrace and a danger".

In his most outspoken speech since becoming chairman of the Prison Reform Trust, the former home secretary accused management of wasting taxpayers' money. And he singled out Brixton, Wormwood Scrubs, Preston and Exeter prisons for special criticism, saying: "There is a sickness which persists, which needs to be ... cured. The sickness in some of our prisons is a disgrace and a danger."

He also criticised the Prison Officers' Association, which he described as "arguably the last exponent of those old destructive union attitudes which did such harm to Britain's public sector in the past".

Lord Hurd said prisons had been given £200m to improve regimes, and jail chiefs could not blame their failings on lack of resources. "There is something amiss here which money cannot cure. Is it wobbly management, unsure of its authority...?

His comments in the Bourne Trust annual lecture in London follow a promise last week by the Prisons minister, Paul Boateng, that Brixton jail would be privatised if it did not improve.