Strangeways staff support bid for prison

PRISON OFFICERS Association members in the beleaguered Strangeways jail yesterday said they would ignore national union policy and co-operate with the Government's plans to privatise the prison system.

Staff agreed to support a commercial, in-house bid to run the jail because the alternative would be a private sector company taking over the prison.

Their support for putting in a prison service bid to manage Strangeways marks a shift from their national union's policy. To date the national POA has opposed all of the Government's attempts to force staff to participate in 'market testing' competitions to decide who should manage Britain's prisons.

Traumatic events in Strangeways, Manchester, scene of the worst prison riots in British history in 1990, forced the policy switch.

In July officers discovered that Walter MacGowan, the governor, had been poached by Group 4, a private security company, which is likely to bid for the contract to run Strangeways next year.

Mr MacGowan had been governor for only six weeks. His defection brought home to officers how vulnerable their jobs were to a private sector purge. They accused Group 4 of 'stealing' the governor after he had acquired the inside knowledge needed to allow a private sector bid to succeed.

Yesterday Robin Halward, the emergency replacement for Mr MacGowan, said that his first aim was to ensure that the Civil Service could fight off the bid from Group 4.

Mr Halward, the former governor of Armley Prion in Leeds, who began work yesterday, said: 'My specific brief is to prepare a bid in competition with the private sector for the prison service to continue running Strangeways when it fully reopens.

'If I succeed, the prison service will continue to run Strangeways. One of the first things I will be doing is assessing the prison. It is too early yet to give a clear view of what my plans for the prison are.'

He promised a 'positive and non-oppressive' regime for inmates and staff - if his prison service bid to beat off the sector was successful. He said he believed in treating prisoners humanely and providing a 'positive and challenging regime'.

However, senior staff in Strangeways have said that the threat of privatisation had destroyed all attempts to reform the notorious jail.

Managers' time was being taken up with preparing the in house bid, they said. They were in no position to deal with criticisms of 'oppressive security' and inhumane conditions in Strangeways.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones