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Posted on 10 January 2013 at 11:15 GMT

Seven more public sector prisons to close

The decision announced today (10th January) to close seven more public sector prisons is irresponsible when the prison population remains high and overcrowding is widespread, the Public and Commercial Services union says in a press release.

The closures of Bullwood Hall, Camp Hill, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston, Shepton Mallet and Shrewsbury will mean redundancies are likely with damaging knock-on effects on local economies.

With the government announcing in November that four more prisons are to be handed to private companies, today's decision will mean a higher proportion of jails are now being run for profit. The new prison places also announced will predominantly be in private prisons.

The news comes just a day after the government announced probation services will mirror the privatised payment-by-results model used for the Department for Work and Pensions' work programme that has been shown to have been so ineffective in finding sustainable jobs for people it was worse than doing nothing.

Before today private institutions in the UK already held up to 20% of the prison population, the highest in the world.

Privatisation and closures have happened without any public debate or scrutiny. The PCS is calling for an independent review into the full impact of privatisation in the prison service, including a thorough examination of the process and financing, and the impact on prisoners, staff, communities and the public.

From a PCS press release

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