Private jails plan concern

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CONCERNS have been raised over a proposal to hand the running of HMP Durham to a private firm.

The category B jail, in the centre of the city, is among nine put forward by the Government for privatisation.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said they have not been chosen because of poor performance, but because they offered the prospect for “efficiency improvements and innovation”.

It could lead to a payment-by-results system, with a contractor’s rewards linked to cutting re-offending rates.

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has said she is among those with concerns and has said: “Durham Prison is generally very well managed and produces few issues for the local community and I would want to ensure that continues.”

She added she also feared job losses and conditions of staff would be weakened.

Previous jail privatisation plans have led to threats of strike action by the Prison Officers’ Association.

It has said it is determined the running of the jail stays in the public sector.