HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 c328W
Ms Janet Anderson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to encourage greater private sector involvement in the Prison Service. [31062]

Miss Widdecombe

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from A. J. Pearson to Ms Janet Anderson, dated 4 June 1996:

The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about private sector involvement in the Prison Service. Over the past five years the Prison Service has successfully involved the private sector in initiatives to improve the services it provides and to achieve greater value for money. Currently, four prisons (Wolds, Blakenhurst, Doncaster and Buckley Hall) are managed by the private sector, and seven out of the eight prison escort areas have now been contracted-out. There has been substantial private-sector involvement to provide purposeful work and training for prisoners. Functions such as prison education have been contracted-out where it has been determined that this leads to greater efficiency and economy. The Home Secretary announced in September 1993 that six new prisons would be built, using private sector finance, and Lowdham Grange was added to the programme in March 1995. The first three privately-funded prisons will open in 1997–8 at Bridgend in south Wales, Fazakerley in Merseyside, and Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire. Planning permission for further prisons is currently being sought in Manchester and Telford.