Rehabilitation of prisoners is one of the most important roles of our criminal justice system. But this important job was completely wrecked when the UK Government part-privatised rehabilitation companies. We are now footing a bill worth millions to unpick the damage done by the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, and the Government is scrabbling for ways to improve rehabilitation.
I pressed the Secretary of State on how the Government would turn around this disgraceful service and ensure that the privatised Community Rehabilitation Companies are either brought back into government control or fixed for a better deal for the taxpayers.
The Justice Select Committee secured a debate on the financial situation of the Ministry of Justice – the most cut department in Government.
Over my speech I covered the abysmal failure of the part-privatised probation service – brought in by Chris Grayling MP – the cuts to prison officer numbers, the rise in violence in prisons and the crumbling infrastructure of our Victorian prisons.
This debate wasn’t just about where we have been and what mess the Government has placed our prisons and probation system in, it was a debate about how do we solve these problems created after eight years of neglect.
The Government announced two new prisons would be constructed in England. Both would involve private sector contracts.
Following on from my questioning of the minister in the Justice Committee about the lost £50m of taxpayers money on private contracts today I used an Urgent Question to quiz the minister on how he will stop this becoming another example of wasted money.
The minister is an extremely courteous man, but his warm words did nothing to allay my fears that the Ministry of Justice has not learnt valuable lessons from its past mistakes and it is likely to repeat them.
£50 million is how much the UK taxpayer has lost because of a poorly constructed contract with the collapsed firm Carillion. This was the answer I got from the minister of prisons towards the end of my questioning in the Justice Committee.
I wanted to know how much the UK taxpayer has lost because of the terrible contract signed. The minister tries to say that the taxpayer hasn’t lost the money, but if we are now having to pay an additional £50m over the lifetime of the contract I would say we have lost this money.
This is becoming a running story with the Ministry of Justice. They have signed up to contracts to run our prisons, building maintenance and other services without doing the due diligence to make sure that we are not losing out. We’ve seen it in Liverpool prison and we have seen it around the rest of the prison estate.