A COMPANY has been selected to help form plans to bring two North East prisons under private-sector control. British firm MITIE Group plc is putting together a bid for the private management of HMP Durham and HMP Northumberland.
If successful, the Bristol-based company would take control of nine prisons across the country as part of a Government privatisation scheme announced by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke last July.
It would mean the Prison Service would no longer be the main organisation responsible for running the jails.
Instead, the service would work in partnership with MITIE Group to head up a 15-year contract said to be worth some £800m.
HMP Durham and HMP Northumberland – formed this month after the merger of HMP Acklington and HMP Castington – are among those that could be contracted out when private companies go head to head with the public sector in a bidding process to end later this year.
But the new partnership means that any successful public-sector bid to retain control of the jails would now include private-sector input from MITIE Group.
MITIE Group is described on the company’s website as a strategic outsourcing and energy services company. Employing 61,000 staff, it provides facilities, property and asset management for “some of the biggest public and private-sector businesses”.
Prison governors and union chiefs insist they are confident jails will continue to be run predominantly by the public sector.