chapter  6
23 Pages

Prison staff in the public and private sector

ByClare McLean, Alison Liebling

The privatisation of prisons has been described as the ‘penal experiment of the century’, and as ‘one of the most important [recent] developments in penal administration’ (Harding 2001: 269) but, with a few exceptions, relatively little formal or independent evaluation of its problems and successes has been conducted to date (see James et al. 1997; Moyle 1995; Liebling, assisted by Arnold 2004). The two main motivations for privatisation in the UK – increased value for money and improvements to prison staff culture – make it clear that prison staff constitute one of two key experimental variables in this largely sociologically undocumented penal development. The other key variable is management approach and innovation.1