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Shock' as charity bids to run prisons

PUBLISHED: 12:13 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 25 August 2010

A PENAL reform charity's decision to join forces with the private sector has been branded a 'massive u-turn'.

A PENAL reform charity's decision to join forces with the private sector has been branded a 'massive u-turn'.

Nacro has joined forces with Group 4 Securicor (G4S), a drugs charity and a construction company, in a bid to run new prisons at Belmarsh Prison, Woolwich, and another at Maghull, Merseyside.

But the move comes as complete shock to the Prison Officer Association (POA), which only found out about the bid on Tuesday.

Assistant secretary of the POA, Glynn Travis, said he was shell-shocked at the news.

He said: "Nacro has always been strongly opposed to prisons being run for private sector and so this constitutes a massive u-turn and we are extremely disappointed.

"Prisons should be run for the public, by the public. This is a massive sea-change.

"We don't know if this will make prisons better.

"There is a lack of investment in prisons by the government. This government is adamant on building more prisons rather than looking at the underlying causes for prisons.

"We are in shock but we see this as a clear shift that has come as a surprise to the union."

But Nacro's chief executive, Paul Cavadino, said: "The best way of ensuring that they are being run properly is to be involved in planning this from the start.

"If you are involved in the planning of the regime, it makes it much more likely that a prison will be providing high-quality resettlement and rehabilitation."

The new prison is to be built next to high-security Category-A Belmarsh which has capacity for 915 prisoners by 2010.

Applications to run the prisons closes in October, and the government will announce who has won the contracts next year.

Two other bids are believed to have been submitted already.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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