Reid's Buy-to-Let Jails; Public Will Be Invited to Sink Their Savings into Cells to Help End Prisons Shortage
Byline: JAMES SLACK;MATTHEW HICKLEY
JOHN Reid is to beg the public to buy shares in new prisons after failing to secure funding from the Treasury.
The unprecedented move would see investors paying for the urgently needed cells, before renting them to the Home Secretary to lock up criminals.
Mr Reid promised 8,000 new cells in the summer - at a cost of [pounds sterling]1.5 billion - but has since failed to secure enough cash from Gordon Brown to build them.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: 'This is a consequence of the Labour Government's failure to address the chronic lack of capacity in our prisons despite warnings over the years.
'This has been compounded by the Treasury's miserly approach towards the Home Office which has actually seen its budget frozen.
'As a result we see John Reid reduced to begging the public to stump up even more of their cash to pay to deal with Labour's failure.' Mr Reid's plan, currently being considered by officials, lays bare his desperation to find extra cash.
He appeared to have struck a deal with the Chancellor to pay for the new jails in July, when he published an action plan to 'rebalance' the criminal justice system.
But it has since turned out to be nothing more than an agreement the money could be found from 'somewhere' - not that it would be handed over by the Treasury.
Effectively, Mr Brown was agreeing the prisons could be built, but not that he would pay for them.
Whitehall insiders say Mr Reid is slashing as much money as possible from existing budgets, while telling officials to dream up more inventive ways of raising new investment. …