Archbishop of York questions private finance for prisons

On 27th June 2018 the Advocate-General for Scotland, Lord Keen of Elie, repeated a Government answer to an Urgent Question on privately financed prisons that had been asked in the House of Commons earlier that day. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, asked a follow up question to raise his concern about indebtedness to private companies: 

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I began my ministry as a prison chaplain in a young offender institution, Latchmere House, where every day some 60 to 70 young men arrived. As a chaplain you had to see them, but sometimes you did not succeed in seeing them because the place was overcrowded. In those days, the prisons were put there by Her Majesty and run with taxpayers’ money. Is the Minister confident that this private finance partnership will not create the same indebtedness from which the National Health Service is suffering? We owe a lot of money to private companies for our new hospitals. Are we walking into the same trap?

Lord Keen of Elie: I thank the most reverend Primate for his question. Competition for custodial services in England and Wales is well established and has been in place since the early 1990s. On the funding of new prison facilities, there are now 14 privately operated prisons in England and Wales. Some of them have been funded by PFI, but not all. We consider that the mix of public and private financing has worked and does work.