Public and Commercial Services Union
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Review of prisons urgently needed as seven more to close

The decision announced yesterday (10 Jan) to close seven more public sector prisons is irresponsible when the prison population remains high and overcrowding is widespread.

The closures of Bullwood Hall, Camp Hill, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston, Shepton Mallet and Shrewsbury will mean redundancies are likely with damaging knock-on effects on local economies.

Any fall in the number of prisoners should be used as an opportunity to reduce overcrowding and focus more resources on reducing reoffending and protecting the public.

Private prisons

With the government announcing in November that four more prisons are to be handed to private companies, yesterday's decision will mean a higher proportion of jails are now being run for profit. The new prison places also announced will predominantly be in private prisons.

The news comes just a day after the government announced probation services will mirror the privatised payment-by-results model used for the Department for Work and Pensions' work programme that has been shown to have been so ineffective in finding sustainable jobs for people it was worse than doing nothing.

Before today private institutions in the UK already held up to 20% of the prison population, the highest in the world.

Independent review

Privatisation and closures have happened without any public debate or scrutiny and the union is calling for an independent review into the full impact of privatisation in the prison service.

This should include a thorough examination of the process and financing, and the impact on prisoners, staff, communities and the public - and a moratorium on any further privatisation until it is completed.

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