The new Minister of State for Prisons was before the Justice Select Committee this week and I wanted to grill him on wasted taxpayer money through the privatisation of probation services.
The National Audit Office undertook a review into this failed experiment – started by the current Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP – and concluded that the Ministry of Justice has had to pump £467 million into the failed project to try and stabilise them.
You can see from my questioning that the Minister and his civil servants were very uncomfortable with these questions. There is obviously still more to learn on this. The Minister tried to hide behind his belief that the taxpayer has saved money because the services are being renationalised again. But this is a completely false way of looking at things. To make a comparison, if you moved out of your house you would stop paying the rent – meaning you make a saving – but you will still need to find somewhere else to live which will cost you rent. The same can be said for rehabilitation. We may no longer be paying the private companies to undertake the work, but we will still have to undertake it ourselves. But we lose the money we spent on private firms prior to renationalisation.
This has been a failed experiment that I voted against when it was first proposed in the 2010-15 Parliament. Our money has been wasted for dogma of private good, public bad. The UK Government should be ashamed.
If we crash out of the EU without a deal we will lose all 26 agreements we currently have in place to allow the transfer of prisoners. I asked the Minister of State what progress has been made to make sure that we keep these transfer agreements.
The Minister agreed with me that a no deal Brexit would see us lose these agreements and move back to an old system where transfer of prisoners would be far slower.
This is just another example of how Brexit is impacting things not discussed nearly three years ago. When even a Minister that supports the Government is saying we will lose a beneficial agreement due to Brexit we must listen.
My report into prison education in Wales has been published today (21 March 2019) and makes key recommendations on how outcomes can be improved for offenders in Wales.
I was requested by the former Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Baroness Eluned Morgan AM, to undertake a review in August 2018 into prison education in Wales.
The recommendations contained within the report are predominantly directed at the Welsh Government and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), but other public-sector bodies and privately-run prisons can take note of these recommendations to improve education within our prisons.
The report made recommendations on the following topics:
• Accountability Structures;
• Inclusivity with Stakeholders;
• Social Clauses: The Welsh Government’s Employment Power
• Through the Gate Services;
• Female Offender Education; and
• Digital Infrastructure. Read more “Prison Education in Wales report”
Last July the Prisons minister stated that jamming technology was vital for stopping the use of drones to smuggle items in and out of prison. The minister has had 5 months to work on the roll-out of this technology so I thought it was fair to ask how many prisons have this technology.
The answer I got was “not that many prisons”. The minister wants to learn from Guernsey prison to see how we roll this technology across the estate. The minister has had some time now to implement this and each day it is not in place the risk of phones, drugs and weapons being smuggled into our prisons increases.