By Gerald Heneghan
Private companies are better than the public sector at running prisons, a think tank has claimed.
A report published today (February 21st) by Reform suggests that private facilities outperform state-run institutions across the board.
In an analysis of Ministry of Justice data, the group claimed that private prisons excel at resource management, operational effectiveness and decency.
Will Tanner, author of the report, suggested that privately-run institutions tend to outperform their public sector counterparts in reducing re-offending rates – a key government objective.
“Private contractors outperform comparable public sector prisons on both cost and quality, delivering better value for money for the taxpayer,” he said.
However, justice minister Jeremy Wright described Reform’s analysis as simplistic and claimed it did not tell the entire story.
“A wide range of factors contribute to reoffending including previous criminal behaviour, drug and alcohol dependency and the support offenders receive on release from prison,” he said.
Mr Wright went on to reassert the government’s commitment to introducing “significant reforms” that aim to tackle the UK’s “stubbornly high” reoffending rates.
Similar comments were issued by Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, who suggested that Reform had been selective in its use of data and private facilities actually experienced mixed results.
“Some private prisons have proved innovative and effective but others have been criticised by the Chief Inspector for their high staff turnover, tendency to cut corners and weaknesses in security,” she said.
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