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Tagged In:  Criminal Justice

The Queen has today (Wednesday 18 May) set out plans for a reform of prison services in her official speech, which has marked the State Opening of Parliament. 

In her speech, the Queen declared that prison governors will be given “unprecedented freedom” and that “old and inefficient prisons will be closed, and new institutions built” as part of the Prison and Courts Reform Bill. 

The Bill, which was drawn up by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, will see more than 5,000 offenders housed in new prisons by the end of the year, and the Government has described it as the “biggest shake up since Victorian times.”

As part of the plans, governors of six jails will be given full control over budgets, rehabilitation, education, and also given operational freedoms to make decisions relating to prison regimes, family visits and the option to opt-out of national contracts. 

Trailblazing these new reforms will be;
  • Wandsworth, south London
  • Holme House, Stockton-on-Tees
  • Ranby, Nottinghamshire
  • Coldingley, Woking
  • Kirklevington Grange, Cleveland
  • High Down, Sutton
The nine new-build prisons which were announced in November 2015 during the Spending Review will also benefit from these new freedoms. 

The government has also announced that prisons will have to become more transparent, with governors required to compile statistics relating to education, reoffending and employment upon release. 

Finally, it was revealed that police forces in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northampton will be piloting a new GPS satellite tracking scheme for offenders. Under the scheme, tagged inmates could be sent home on weekdays in a bid to improve employment opportunities, and returned to jail at weekends. 

Speaking of the reforms, David Cameron said: “We finally undertake the long-overdue change that our prisons need. No longer will they be warehouses for criminals, we want them to be incubators of changed and reformed lives.”

What do you think about the reforms announced today? Tweet us @SanctuaryCJ and let us know what you think #prisonreforms 

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