A quarter of century has passed since Margaret Thatcher launched one of her most controversial reforms, privately- run prisons, and the role of the private sector in delivering public services continues to be one of the big political issues of our time. This book, by a critical professional insider, re-assesses the benefits and failures of competition, how public and private prisons compare, the impact of competition on the public sector’s performance, and how well Government has managed this peculiar ‘quasi-market’.
Drawing on first person interviews with key players, including Chief Executives and prison managers in both sectors and Chief Inspectors, Julian Le Vay uses his former role as Finance Director of the Prison Service to give a wholly new analysis of comparative costs and of the impact of constant changes in competition policy. He draws out lessons from the parallel stories of the SERCO/G4S billing scandal, privately run immigration detention and the more radical approach now being taken on outsourcing probation, and looks in detail at four prisons, publicly and privately run, that ‘failed’. Concluding with a critique of the future shape of competition, he also draws some general conclusions on the way government works. This is vital reading for anyone interested in the role of competition in public services, implementation of public policy, or the state of our prisons.
Julian Le Vay was Finance Director of HM Prison Service for five years, responsible for competitions to build and run prisons, then Director for Competition in the National Offender Management Service. Later he worked for two companies providing criminal justice services to Government. He is well placed to write about competition, having worked at different times on both sides of the fence.
Part 1: Immigration: two sectors, no competition;
Evolution: juvenile custody;
Part 2: Electronic monitoring: the Fall of Giants;
The quasi-market: characteristics and operation;
Comparing public and private sector services;
Comparing quality of service;
Part 3: Four prisons in trouble;
Costing the uncostable (1): pensions;
Costing the uncostable (2) : PFI;
Impact on the public sector;
Opposition on principle;
Part four: Probation: how not to do it;
"This is an intelligent, challenging analysis demonstrating very clearly what has been lost, in terms of making prisons more effective and more humane, by the abandonment of competition. Much the best history of the period I've read." Sir Martin Narey, first CEO of National Offender Management Service and adviser to the Secretary of State for Justice
"[A] detailed assemblage of data and studies....devastatingly critical" The Howard Journal
"Julian LeVay uses his former role as Finance Director of the Prison Service to give a wholly new analysis of comparative costs and of the impact of constant changes in competition policy." On Probation Blog
"Produces some fascinating insights...his work raises many of the issues that a wider enquiry needs to address and attempt to find answers to." John Tizard, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
"A fascinating book relevant to all interested in politics. Its superb analysis of the development of private sector prisons provides an excellent case study demonstrating the weaknesses of our political system." Philip Wheatley CB, former Director General of the National Offender Management Service and former Director General of HM Prison Service