One of the key passages of the Learmont Report reads: "Confusion of purpose within the Service is apparent in the area of performance standards and measures. The Corporate Plan, 1994-97, includes the Statement of Purpose, a Vision, five Values, six Goals, seven Strategic Priorities and eight KPIs [key performance indicators]."According to Learmont and heavily emphasised by Mr Howard, this "confusion of purpose" and lack of leadership was a crucial factor in creating the conditions which led to the Parkhurst breakout.
What Learmont ignores and Mr Howard seeks to obscure is that each and every one of these statements and the Corporate Plan itself has been approved by the Home Secretary.
Learmont itself is a deeply flawed report displaying immense ignorance of the framework within which the Prison Service agency was established and ignoring the levels of responsibility above the Prisons Board, despite the ample evidence in its own pages of detailed and overwhelming ministerial intervention. It also ignores the real pattern of Prison Service performance which has improved in remarkably difficult circumstances.
Professor Colin Talbot
University of Glamorgan