Jobs fear at jail

UP TO 200 jobs could be put at risk if one of Suffolk's jails is sold off by the Government, it has been warned.Prison Service bosses are considering putting all its dedicated juvenile jails that hold children and youngsters under 18 out to tender, including Warren Hill prison in Hollesley, near Woodbridge.

UP TO 200 jobs could be put at risk if one of Suffolk's jails is sold off by the Government, it has been warned.

Prison Service bosses are considering putting all its dedicated juvenile jails that hold children and youngsters under 18 out to tender, including Warren Hill prison in Hollesley, near Woodbridge.

One of the options they are looking at is offering the four institutions as a job lot to be run by a private prison company in a deal believed to be worth about £50million.

The move could put 200 jobs at Warren Hill – including more than 100 prison officers – under threat and was criticised as "morally repugnant" by a union leader.


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But the governor of the jail said he hoped to avoid the prison being privatised and added jobs should be secure even if that did happen.

The privatisation plan is being proposed by Martin Narey, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, in an effort to boost competition and choice in the penal system.

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Warren Hill could be included in a "cluster" of public sector jails dedicated to under-18s being put out to tender, along with Huntercombe, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Wetherby in West Yorkshire and Werrington in Stoke-on-Trent.

The proposals are being considered by Home Office ministers and, if approved, the four institutions will become the first public sector prisons to be handed over to the private sector.

Stuart Robinson, governor of Warren Hill, said: "We are aware that juvenile institutions are being considered for market testing and that is far as it has gone at the moment."

Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said it was "morally repugnant" for the Government to sell prisons to private companies "for profit".

Warren Hill jail has an operational capacity of 220, with up to 30 offenders housed in a secure unit, Carlford, for teenage murderers and those serving very long sentences. It employs 109 prison officers and total staff numbers are about 200.

A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said of the proposal: "This is one of the options we are considering, but nothing has been decided yet."

Should prisons be privatised? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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