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Prison Service

Volume 164: debated on Thursday 11 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conclusions he has reached on the review of the organisation and location above establishment level of the prison service in England and Wales.

The report was published on 10 August and copies were placed in the Library. I have been able to consider the report's recommendations in the light of over 150 written submissions, and of comments made in presentations conducted by prison service management. I have myself had discussions with many people in the service, and have met representatives of all the major trade unions concerned.I am satisfied that it is right to accept all the main recommendations of the review. The Prisons Board will be restructured by the creation of operational directorates. The regional system will be replaced by area managers who will be part of the headquarters structure. More work will be devolved to establishments from headquarters and regional offices. The whole of headquarters up to and including the Director General will in due course be relocated to the midlands. Work will begin to determine whether, and if so when, the prison service should become an executive agency.The new organisation will come into being in September and will be based in existing accommodation in London and Birmingham until a new midlands location is available.I believe that these radical changes will place the service in a stronger position to meet the challenges it faces. They will build on the existing major programme of reforms and modernisation resulting from "Fresh Start", the prison building and refurbishment programme, an increased use of information technology and renewed work to improve regimes for inmates.