Her Majesty's Prison Service
"HM Prison" redirects here. For prisons in Australia, see
List of Australian prisons."
Her Majesty's Prison Service is the
United Kingdom Executive Agencytasked with managing most of the prisons within England and Wales. ( Scotlandand Northern Irelandhave their own prison services: the Scottish Prison Serviceand the Northern Ireland Prison Service, respectively).
The Director-General, currently Phil Wheatley, is the administrator of the prison service. The Director-General reports to the
Home Secretaryand also works closely with the Prisons Minister, a junior ministerial post within the Ministry of Justice.
Operation of the Service
As of 2004, the Prison Service is responsible for 138 prisons and employs around 44,000 staff.
The Service's statement of purpose states "Her Majesty's Prison Service serves the public by keeping in custody those committed by the courts. Our duty is to look after them with humanity and help them lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release." The Ministry of Justice's objective for prisons seeks "Effective execution of the sentences of the courts so as to reduce re-offending and protect the public".
Population statistics for the Service are published weekly. Statistics available for October 2007 showed the service housed 80,997 prisoners: 76,588 males and 4,409 females.
Early in 2004, it was announced that the Prison Service would be integrated into a new
National Offender Management Servicelater in the year.
Rationalisation of the prison management system is currently underway with the advent of the
Prison Officer ranks
Although the system is flexible in operation, most Prison Officers work in small teams, either assigned to a specific special duty, or providing one shift of staff for the supervision of a particular "wing" within a prison. Each such team is led by a Senior Prison Officer. Where several teams work together, such as the different staff shifts on an individual prison wing, there will be an overall supervisor with the rank of Principal Prison Officer. All uniformed prison staff were formerly under the supervision of a small number of very senior and experienced officers who held one of three "Chief Officer" ranks; however, modern reorganisation of the Service has seen these Chief Officer ranks abolished, and their role taken by junior grade prison Governors.
The Prison Service does not manage all prisons within England and Wales. Currently there are seven prisons that have been designed, constructed, managed and financed (so-called DCMF prisons) privately. There are two further prisons that were built with public money but are managed privately. Two more DCMF prisons, in Bronzefield (HM Prison) at Ashford and
Peterborough, have recently been opened. Private prisons are subject to scrutiny by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisonsin a similar manner to prisons run by the public Prison Service.
6 January 2004, then Home Secretary David Blunkettannounced that the Prison Service, together with the National Probation Service, is to be integrated into a new National Offender Management Service. The Service, Blunkett said, will be "a new body to provide end-to-end management of all offenders". The Prison Service will still have a Director General, who will report to the Chief Executive of the new agency. As of August 2005, the changes had yet to be introduced, with the relevant parliamentary bill having been abandoned due to the general election. [ [http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200405/ldbills/016/2005016.pdf A copy of the proposed bill from the Stationery Office.] ]
In January, 2008, the
Home Secretaryannounced that the government was to introduce legislation to remove the right for Prison Officers in England and Walesto take strike action. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7175503.stm Ministers seek prison strike ban] ]
Independent Monitoring Board
Every prison and immigration removal centre has an
Independent Monitoring Board(IMB), formerly known as a "Board of Visitors". Members of the IMB, who are volunteers, are appointed by the Home Secretary and act as 'watchdogs' for both the Minister of Prisons and the general public, to ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained. [See the [http://www.imb.gov.uk/ Independent Monitoring Board website.] ]
Scottish Prison Service
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons
United Kingdom prison population
List of United Kingdom prisons
*Prison categories in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/ HM Prison Service homepage]
* [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/n_story.asp?item_id=756 Press release from Home Office about re-organisation]
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