Letter: Exploitation by security firms

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Long is right to criticise the inadequacy of the role given to lay observers of courts (Letters, 1 July). For some time now the detention areas in courts have been run by private security firms.

If the observers had been permitted to do a proper job they may well have criticised the way privatised court services exploit their staff for profit. The security industry is notoriously exploitative. That is the only way it can be both competitive and profit-making.

After the suicide of Peter Austin it is to be hoped lay observers will no longer be put off with the excuse of "commercial confidentiality". As matters stand this can too easily be used as a smokescreen at the higher levels of management both in the prison service and the private security industry to avoid their proper share of blame when things go wrong, as they are bound to do.


National Secretary

Prison Service Union

Pontefract, West Yorkshire