Privatisation 'cure' proposed for prison: Tumim report condemns 'depressing' and 'squalid' jail

THE CHIEF inspector of prisons has suggested, for the first time, that a state-run jail may need to be privatised because it is run so badly and is in a 'depressing' and 'squalid' condition.

Commenting on Preston prison, Judge Stephen Tumim, in one of his most critical reports, which is published today, concludes: 'In Preston it was as if nothing had changed since the 1960s.'

He blames part of the problem on 'acrimonious' industrial relations between the prison officers' union and management, and goes on to suggest that the situation has become so difficult that the only solution may be privatisation and consequent break-up of the union.

Judge Tumim says: 'Establishments with impoverished regimes and poor conditions, which fail to gain the co-operation of the majority of staff to improvements, may lend themselves to being taken over by private companies, particularly if the cost of their operation is disproportionate to the performance delivered. Conditions and the regime at Preston must be improved . . .'

The Prison Service is considering putting two or three state-run prisons out to tender, or 'market testing'. They intend, eventually, to have about 12 jails run privately.

Preston is a local prison which, at the time of the inspection in January, held 517 inmates, most of whom were unsentenced or low-security prisoners. Judge Tumim says that the standard of throughcare was 'abysmal', and the cells were 'squalid' and 'dirty'. Prisoners were allowed only one shower and two pairs of socks a week.

Derek Lewis, director-general of the Prison Service, said the problems highlighted in the report would be 'important factors' in deciding which jails should go out to tender, but added that no decision had been made about Preston. 'I am optimistic the prison will rise to the challenge, but if improvements are not made we will have to review its future.'

John Bartell, chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, said: 'For the prisons inspector to exploit the unfavourable conditions prevailing at Preston to the benefit of the private sector marks the beginning of the end for the independence of his office. Preston is one of the country's most overcrowded prisons and staff have had to work in exceptionally difficult conditions.'

David Roddan, general secretary of the Prison Governors Association, said: 'Whilst there does appear to have been resistance to the efforts of successive able governors, the Government must share the responsibility for the condition of Preston at the time of the inspection. This is largely due to a national prison population rise of 8,000 (20 per cent) in 18 months.'

Stephen Shaw, director of the Prison Reform Trust, added: 'However poor the performance at Preston, there is as yet scant evidence that the private sector can deliver a better and more cost effective service . . .'

The risk of HIV infection in prison is 'enormous' because drug-taking is widespread and needles are endlessly re-used, according to a report by the Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour. Some inmates inject drugs twice a day. The researchers have called for methadone, the heroin substitute, to be made available in prisons, along with bleach to help sterilise needles.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Solutions Consultant (financial services)

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: SQL Solutions Consultant (financi...

Implementation Consultant - Business Analyst, SQL

£50000 - £70000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Application Support - Unix, Linux, Windows, Bash, Perl, Python

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: An established leader in the Trading Syste...

Senior IOS Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil