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Improving the prison estate


In the 2015 Spending Review the Government committed £1.3bn in to provide up to 10,000 prison places as part of the Prison Estate Transformation Programme (PETP), to be partially funded from the sale of prisons. The Ministry of Justice contracted out facilities management of prisons to private companies Amey and Carillion, the latter replaced by GFSL, a government company, when Carillion collapsed. 

In August 2019, the Government committed to creating another 10,000 prison places, to meet expected higher demand from the planned recruitment of 20,000 police officers.   

The NAO’s report ‘Improving the prison estate’ examines the condition and capacity of the prison estate, its approach to maintaining prisons, and progress it has made in transforming the estate. 

The report finds that the Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS) has not maintained its estate to the necessary standard, so that prisoners are held in unsafe, crowded conditions. Government tried to improve prison conditions and capacity by contracting out facilities management services and replacing old unsuitable accommodation with new prisons places. However, these programmes have not delivered.  

The report concludes that contractors have not performed as hoped, expected savings from outsourcing have not materialised, and there are severe maintenance backlogs. The report also finds that the Prison Estate Transformation Programme now expects to create only 3,566 prison places against an original target of 10,000 new-for-old places.  

It concludes that HMPPS has been slow to formulate a long-term strategy, instead focussing on reacting to immediate population and maintenance problems. It faces a significant challenge to meet the new commitment to create 10,000 additional prison places. 

The Committee will question officials from the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, on the current condition of the prison estate, and how they intend to deliver on the Government’s pledge to create an additional 10,000 prison places.  

The Committee is inviting views on the issues raised by the NAO report, and any extra implications arising from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic – please submit your evidence here by close of Thursday 25 June 2020.