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Monday, July 18, 2011

Clarke plans to close two jails and privatise eight more

Two prisons will be closed and nine further jails put out to competition in the autumn, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said.

Nine prisons, including eight currently run by the public sector, will be put out for competition "to balance the need to increase efficiency" and fulfil the Government's plans for a "rehabilitation revolution", the Ministry of Justice said.

Two others - Latchmere House prison, in west London, and Brockhill prison, in the West Midlands - will shut in September with the loss of 377 prison places.

Mr Clarke said: "The public have a right to expect continuing improvement in the quality and efficiency of public services, without compromising public safety.

"The competition strategy and adjustments to the prison estate will help ensure that this is the case."
Four prisons in Yorkshire - Lindholme, Moorland, Hatfield and The Wolds - two in Northumberland - Acklington and Castington, Onley in Northamptonshire and Coldingley in Surrey will all be put out for competition.

Birmingham prison will be transferred to a private company in October, with the loss of more than 100 jobs. The contract to run one of the country's largest jails was won by the company G4S, which beat a rival bid from the public sector.

New "for sale" notices are being hung over: Lindholme, Moorland and Hatfield prisons in Yorkshire; Acklington and Castington in Northumberland; Durham prison; Onley in Northamptonshire; and Coldingley in Surrey. The Prison Service will be invited to bid, but private firms are likely to win contracts.

A ninth prison, the Wolds, in Yorkshire, is also being put out to tender. It is already run by G4S, which is nearing the end of its contract.

The move could nearly double the number of jails in England and Wales run by private firms from 11 to 20.

Mr Clarke also announced that Latchmere House prison in west London and Brockhill prison in the west Midlands are to shut in September with the loss of 377 prison places. The closures are expected to save £11.4m a year. Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "A practical concern is that a tendering exercise on this scale, together with massive budgetary cuts, will deflect existing services from the essential job of managing prisoners and working to reduce reoffending.

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