Oldest trick in the book
Faced with a coruscating indictment of Tory mis-management of the prison system today from Andrea Albutt of the Prison Governors Association, this was the response from Bob Neill, chair of the influential Commons Justice Committee:
Conservative MP and chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, told Today he did not share Albutt’s concerns over the government’s changes, saying the split between policy and operations happened successfully across other areas of the public sector.#
The bigger problem, Neill said, was a serious disconnection and growing lack of confidence between “the top brass, if you like, of the Prison Service and the operational people on the ground”.
Meanwhile the silence from Lidington is deafening*.
Looks to me that the Tories are measuring Michael Spurr, head of the service, for the drop, should prison riots break out this summer. Exactly what Michael Howard did when he found himself in the firing line on prisons - insert your servants between you and the bullets. Worked for him!**
# Odd, since that is not at all what the Committee he chairs said in their recent report:
“it is not clear how the relationship between HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), responsible for operational management, and the Ministry, responsible for policy and commissioning, will work in practice. This lack of clarity could make it harder to see what is going wrong in prisons and why, and confusion about who is responsible for what could make prisons less safe and effective”.
* MoJ refused to appear or make any statement to the Newsnight programme on 2 August; all we have from Lidington on the crisis is his banal 'open letters'. But being new in the job will only work as alibi for so long....
** Lidington will be familar with this gambit: he started his political life as Howard's PPS. Maybe someone should ask him if he thinks 'prisons works'.
2/8/2017 11:56:44 am
I have been forecasting since 2013 that the political decision to make 25% cuts to prison funding delivered by reducing staffing levels, shedding experienced staff and recruiting cheaper staff would deliver disaster if there was no reduction in the size of the prison population. This is not a failure of prison management it is a major political failure. A failure made even more likely by a series of disruptive and ill thought through political initiatives imposed on an already overstretched prison system.. if Ministers dump responsibility on Michael Spurr it will be a travesty of justice and proves how morally bankrupt the Government is.
9/8/2017 04:34:39 pm
Isn't this how traditionally Ministers act when faced with problems that require more than a quick fix. Never mind the numerous changes in direction created by a succession of Ministers who insisted on putting their own stamp on operational matters, when all is failing sack and blame the Senior Civil Servant in charge, throw in a few quid to say they are addressing the failure caused by the Prison Service Managers and appoint someone new. Problem solved for them as next time the issue blows up they will have moved on. Michael has really done well juggling all of this over the past few years and perhaps he may feel it is time to spend more time with his family, rather to battle to push this particular Boulder continuously uphill.
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I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
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