Security key in prison takeovers

The Home Secretary has said that security is the key issue whenever prisons are subject to privatisation.

Theresa May MP, the Conservative Home Secretary, paid a visit to north Northumberland this week.

And while in Berwick, she was asked about the privatisation of HMP Northumberland, near Acklington, which was taken over by by Sodexo Justice Services in December.

In August last year, it was announced that a 15-year contract, worth an estimated £250million over its term, had been signed.

Then in October, revealed that consultations over the loss of up to 200 jobs had begun with the Ministry of Justice and the unions.

Mrs May said: “When the Ministry of Justice is putting out any contracts for a prison, they make absolutely certain that what’s going to be done, if a private-sector company does take a prison over, and what is going to be provided is right in terms of the security that’s necessary.”

“Obviously security is at the heart of what we do. From my point of view as Home Secretary, that’s about policing, it’s also about counter-terrorism and other issues.

“For the Ministry of Justice, it’s making sure we get our prison estate right, that we have got the security that’s necessary, that we have got the right sentencing so the right people and being put in prison and obviously kept there for as long as is necessary.”

Asked whether the closure of police stations would affect policing in rural Northumberland, the Home Secretary said no, explaining that she feels that the days of people just looking to the police station as the place to go for assistance were gone.

“This is something that’s happening in other parts of the country as well,” she said.

“Things are changing in terms of how people access the police and how the police make themselves available.

“What matters is that it’s been very clear, the Chief Constable has been very clear here in Northumbria Police that she wants to protect the frontline and I think that is what’s important to people.”