Letter: No change in prison policy for IRA

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The Independent Online
Sir: I write to reinforce the comments made by Paddy Seligman. Boards of Visitors held their annual conference at York University last week. Both the Home Secretary and the minister for prisons were invited but were unable to attend, due to prior engagements.

Had either been there, he would have heard me say that it would be much better if he acted upon the recommendations made in our annual reports and letters, and that the idea of spending money to save money seems to be a concept that this government finds difficult to comprehend.

Board members are appointed as independent lay representatives of the local community to every prison in England and Wales by the Home Secretary. They have a statutory duty to ensure that prisons are run fairly in the interest of the public, prisoners and staff. In effect, they are the mirror of the Prison Inspectorate, but are unpaid.

There is no point in blaming Derek Lewis, the director general, when he is constrained by politicians on the one hand and the Treasury on the other.

Board members are in their prisons almost every day of the week. There is no point in our making recommendations if they are ignored.

Yours faithfully,



Board of Visitors

Co-ordinating Committee

London, W8

13 September