Call for HMP Northumberland investigation

HMP Northumberland.
HMP Northumberland.

Labour’s candidate in north Northumberland for the next General Election has called for an investigation into the privatisation of HMP Northumberland.

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Scott Dickinson wants to see a ‘parliamentary select committee-style investigation’ into the controversial decision to hand over the prison – the scene of a recent disturbance which divided opinion – to Sodexo Justice Services.

His proposal to set up the study into the effects of the privatisation on north Northumberland would see trade unions and the company invited to give evidence setting out the potential pitfalls and the future plans by Sodexo for the site and the community.

Coun Dickinson has written to the chairman of Northumberland County Council’s scrutiny panel to seek approval to kick-start the study and has already indicated that he would be prepared to use his position on the council of business chairman to undertake the investigation if the scrutiny panel decides to block the plan.

“It’s clear that the decision by the Coalition to privatise HMP Northumberland will have far-ranging implications for north Northumberland and I believe we need to get to the bottom of the plans for the prison,” he said. “I think it’s vitally important that we understand the issues for the communities of north Northumberland and that’s why I’m urging the scrutiny panel to look at the impact of the privatisation on the area and the public purse.

“It’s clear that we face significant problems with the whole concept of mass privatisation in our county with East Coast rail and search and rescue at Boulmer already lined up to be sold off. Nobody seems to be speaking up for the people who will lose out as the Coalition flog off all and sundry in a closing-down sale before the General Election in 2015.”