LETTER: Who takes the blame for prison problems?

Click to follow
From Mr Stephen Shaw

Sir: As you suggest, Derek Lewis's record as director general of the Prison Service is one of considerable achievement. Contrary to the public image, performance has improved in many areas, and Mr Lewis has given highly visible leadership.

Although the Prison Reform Trust did not agree with everything he did, Mr Lewis's problems were not, in the main, of his own making. He was unlucky to preside over the prisons at a time when the population increased by a quarter. And he could not be blamed if Michael Howard's obsessive interference in the work of the Prison Service made a mockery of its status as a Next Steps agency.

Although it is difficult to see that Mr Lewis could continue in post once he had lost the Home Secretary's confidence, the peremptory way in which he has been treated is poor reward for a decent man doing a decent job.

Your faithfully,

Stephen Shaw

Prison Reform Trust

London, EC1

17 October