Prison Reform: Governor Empowerment and Prison Performance

Published: Apr 2017

The Justice Committee appointed by the House of Commons

The Government intends to give prison governors greater autonomy and flexibility to shape the services provided in their prisons, emphasising the role of prisons in rehabilitation. Most of the witnesses in the report supported these intentions, but many expressed concerns about the lack of clarity on the practical implications of the reforms.

From April onwards, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will be responsible for prisons commissioning and policy, while the new HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will be responsible for the operational management of prisons. The authors are generally supportive of the principle of greater governor empowerment, but have not seen any evidence that it will necessarily lead to better outcomes for prisoners, and note that the six initial reform prisons will only be evaluated after the reforms take effect across the prison estate.