Prison Governance Contents


Purpose of the inquiry

1.A series of changes have been made to the way the prison system is run since the Ministry of Justice published its White Paper, Prison Safety and Reform, in November 2016. There have been substantial changes to oversight arrangements for the prison system, and an enhanced role for governors. Three years on, we chose to inquire into how far the changes the Ministry proposed had been implemented and whether they were operating successfully.

2.The challenges many prisons are facing are well documented and during our inquiry Prison Population 2022, we became increasingly concerned at a lack of progress being made by the Ministry and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) in driving change within the prison system. In particular, we heard about a lack of resources for governors to effectively implement improvements to safety and rehabilitative strategies; limitations with leadership training were also emphasised to us as an issue. We wanted to investigate whether the Ministry had a plan in place to address the challenges the prison system is facing and whether governors had the support necessary to succeed in their role.

How the inquiry was carried out

3.We took written evidence and held three evidence sessions in June and July 2019 with a number of stakeholders, as well as those tasked with delivery. We took evidence from the then Prisons Minister, now Secretary of State for Justice, rt hon Robert Buckland QC MP, on 16 July 2019. We also held a seminar with 18 current prison governors and directors, a note of which is included in Annex 1.

4.The terms of reference for the inquiry were:

What should the role of a prison governor be, what should they be responsible for and to whom are they accountable?

How should the Ministry of Justice and HM Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS) provide effective oversight of prisons?

Published: 31 October 2019