Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS)

Potential savings of £120 million found – and improved procurement policies.

Collinson Grant was invited to support a review of HMPS led by Lord Carter of Coles. A team was formed.

It comprised a mix of managers from HMPS, National Offender Management Service and the Home Office – as well as the consultants from Collinson Grant. We provided support to all aspects of the work of the team. Part of this was a comparative examination of the approaches taken in other European countries, including the Netherlands.

Our main effort was on two intensive analytical studies to provide tangible evidence of the scope for change in working practices, including procurement. These were backed up by specific enquiries into topics highlighted by the analysis.

First, we analysed the organisational structure and resources deployed by HMPS, using comprehensive databases of all employees in HMPS and in NOMS and the non-payroll expenditure of HMPS to provide:

  • insights into the overall organisational structure
  • an understanding of how people and resources are deployed
  • comparisons between like establishments and Area Offices
  • an analysis of purchasing practices, particularly for utilities and other property-related services
  • pointers to where staffing or costs were higher than normal.

This review revealed theoretical gross savings of £189 million. After a careful review of each opportunity our recommendation was that £120 million could be realised by a well-managed programme of implementation.

Activity study of two contrasting prisons

As part of the Carter review team, we went on to examine the activities and resources used at two selected establishments in the West Midlands – Stafford and Blakenhurst Prisons. The study of these two contrasting establishments:

  • provided valuable insights into the costs of basic services compared with discretionary programmes
  • highlighted the large administrative cost incurred through overlapping and inefficient procedures
  • demonstrated the scope to reform working practices by adopting the approach carried forward at Blakenhurst since it was privately managed.

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