Private Firms Win Jail Chief's Backing Third Sector Companies Join Durham Prison Bid

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Glover

ASECOND North East prison governor has thrown his weight behind a bid that would see aspects of the region's jails privatised.

Tim Allen, the man in charge at HMP Durham, believes the public-private partnership bid due to be submitted in April will ensure prisons remain "safe, orderly and decent". The Ministry of Justice has started a process that could see more jails fall under the control of private firms as it attempts to make significant savings.

And Mr Allen has joined Matt Spencer, his opposite number at HMP Northumberland, in declaring his support for the submission that would see the prison service work with a collection of other companies to manage the institutions.

It has now been confirmed that third sector bodies, the Shaw Trust and Working Links, have joined the prison service in a strategic partnership to fight off competition from other bidders, expected to include G4S, Serco and Sodexo. A similar tie-up was confirmed last month with MITIE Group plc, a Bristol-based business that offers "facilities, property and asset management".

The Shaw Trust and Working Links have a track record of working with ex-offenders and between them have helped more than 80,000 prisoners.

Mr Allen said the contracting out process, due to reach its conclusion in October, was a chance to improve services and reduce costs.

"HMP Durham has a long tradition of protecting the public within the North East and I see the current competition process as an opportunity to continue that," he said.

"Her Majesty's prisons are the world leaders in custodial services and many other countries look to us for how to provide those services on a national level.

"We've got significant experience at running safe, orderly services and we're now working in particular with MITIE, who will bring in their expertise of facilities management, and together we will be able to provide a bid that will be difficult to beat. …

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