MP calls for prison staff job assurances

Expertise: Caroline Flint.
Expertise: Caroline Flint.

DON Valley MP Caroline Flint has told of her concerns over plans to put three Doncaster prisons out to competition.

The private sector will be offered the chance to bid to run MP Hatfield, HMP Lindholme and HMP Moorland, although the public sector is also expected to make a bid.

Prison officers have already raised concerns that it could mean job losses.

Ms Flint, whose Don Valley constituency contains all three sites, said: “The only consolation in the decision to put our local prisons up for competition is that the Government hasn’t closed them; which at least means that the Government see a future to invest in HMP Hatfield, HMP Moorland and HMP Lindholme.

“What is not clear is why these prisons have been selected and the Minister’s letter sheds no light at all on this. So we still don’t know what criteria was used and what impact it will have on those working within the prison system.

“I hope there will be a strong public sector bid from the in-house team, but I also want reassurance from Government about any further job losses as a result of this process.

“Our local prisons have experienced and professional prison and probation officers, and it is important not to lose their expertise from the system.”

Ben Bradley, a member of the Independent Monitoring Board at Lindholme, has suggested one possibility may be a joint bid by all three prisons to run the sites.

The Government says the move is part of its strategy to improve the efficiency and value for money of services.

It says the changes will not compromise public safety or reduce the quality of the services, and will ensure there are always sufficient prison places for offenders who are sentenced to custody by the courts.

Prisons were selected for competition on criteria including the potential for efficiency improvements, not for poor performance. The process is due to start in the autumn and is expected to be completed by autumn 2013.