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Her Majesty's Prison Service is an Executive Agency in the United Kingdom tasked with managing most of the prisons within England and Wales. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own prison services: the Scottish Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Prison Service, respectively).

The Director-General of the National Offender Management Service, currently Phil Wheatley, is the administrator of the prison service. The Director-General reports to the Justice Secretary and also works closely with the Prisons Minister, a junior ministerial post within the Ministry of Justice.

Contents

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 6th March 2009 showed the service housed 82,816 prisoners: 78,500 males and 4,316 females.[1]

Reform

Early in 2004, it was announced that the Prison Service would be integrated into a new National Offender Management Service later in the year.

Rationalisation of the prison management system is currently underway with the advent of the Titan Prison concept.

Prison officers

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Powers

Prison officers have "all the powers, authority, protection and privileges of a constable" whilst acting as such.[2]

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.

Her Majesty's Prison Service rank insignia
Rank Prison Officer Senior Prison Officer Principal Prison Officer Assistant Chief Officer Chief Officer (II) Chief Officer (I)
Insignia UK-hmps-oa.jpg UK-hmps-ob.jpg UK-hmps-oc.jpg These three grades have
been abolished and replaced with
junior Governor grades.
Comment Service logo only One bath star Two bath stars Three bath stars One crown Star and crown

Private Prisons

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 (HM Prison), have recently been opened. Private prisons are subject to scrutiny by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in a similar manner to prisons run by the public Prison Service.

Proposed legislation

In January, 2008, the Home Secretary announced that the government was to introduce legislation to remove the right for Prison Officers in England and Wales to take strike action.[3]

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.[4]

HMPS in the National Offender Management Service

On 6 January 2004, then Home Secretary David Blunkett announced 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".

On 1 April 2008, NOMS was reorganised as part of a shake-up in the Ministry of Justice. The headquarters and regional structures of NOMS and HMPS were merged into a single HQ structure with Phil Wheatly as Director General of NOMS. This brings HMPS and the National Probation Service under a single headquarters structure for the first time ever.[5]

See also

References

External links


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