Doncaster’s prisons to stay in the public sector

HMP Moorland.
HMP Moorland.

Doncaster’s three prisons are to remain in the public sector following a U-turn on privatisation plans.

Government services company Serco has been ditched as the leading bidder to take over HMP Lindholme, Moorland and Hatfield amid an investigation into its operations.

Yesterday, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced the jails would therefore remain managed by the prison service.

Serco had been named in July as the leading bidder for a takeover. However, the process was delayed as the company is being investigated for allegedly over-charging the Government for electronically tagging criminals.

Mr Grayling said: “The impact of the delay and the uncertainty this has created mean that, for operational reasons, we cannot postpone the outcome of the competition process any further. I have therefore decided that the competition for these prisons will cease and that all three prisons will be managed by HM Prison Service.

“This approach provides a workable solution and in the circumstances is the best possible option both for the prisons involved and for the public.”

The decision was welcomed by campaigners.

Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Something as important as taking away someone’s freedom should only be done by the state, answerable to voters, rather than by international private security firms, whose prime aim is to make a profit for their shareholders.

“Running prisons for profit means these multi-nationals cash in on others’ misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells.”

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We welcome the decision to strip Serco of this potential contract but it should never have been handed it in the first place.

“Privatisation of our justice system is happening without any public debate or discussion, and we urgently need an independent review to look at its impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating Serco after an audit suggested it took money for tagging criminals who were dead, in jail, or never existed.