CIG ponders privatisation of prison transport

| 28/09/2016 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Government is preparing an outline business case for outsourcing inmate transport. In the first step towards the privatisation of a full public sector service, the Home Affairs ministry has released a strategic assessment on the possibility of contracting out the movement of inmates from the prison or police cells to court or hospital and back to a local security firm. Officials estimate that this could cut costs by almost a quarter of a million dollars a year and allow the prison and police to redeploy officers currently diverted to escorting prisoners back to core duties. But such moves in other countries have had adverse consequences.

The privatisation of prison transport in the US, the UK, Australia and other countries has had mixed results. Poor security measures, as contracts try to cut the costs to the bone, have resulted in numerous inmate escapes. Concerns about the abuse of prisoners by unprofessional, poorly trained and very low paid security staff have even led to prosecutions in Britain.

But in response to the Ernst and Young review of the public sector and the development of Project Future, which is assessing change and cost cutting in the civil service, the ministry turned its attention to the prison.

The report was written by Prison Director Neil Lavis and signed off by the former Home Affairs chief officer, Eric Bush, with two viable options for change now approved by Cabinet to form the basis of a full outline business case. In a release about the proposal government said that the options to outsource would “be considered very carefully”, as it acknowledged the legal and human rights implications and the obvious public safety risks.

The two options are very similar: one is restricted to contracting services to escort prisoners from custody suites and the prisons to court and back; the second also includes moving prisoners to and from external medical appointments.

Every day dozens of inmates go from jail to court or to hospital in secure vans or police cars and many officers are involved in the process. But prison officers that escort the inmates also work at the court cells where prisoners are held while awaiting their appearance or during breaks in court proceedings. It’s not clear if government is considering extending the privatisation of inmate security to those custody areas as well.

Despite the obvious implications of having officers paid a fraction of the rate of professionals undertaking the work, the prison director identified this as an opportunity to achieve savings in his budget, which, at more than $13 million a year, he knows is unpopular with the community. However, a prison break would prove even more unpopular with the public.

But the prison remains under pressure to achieve more and more with less, as the population in jail increases and the need for full rehabilitation is now enshrined in law before inmates can be released.

The strategic assessment points out that the prison cannot provide any development opportunities because of the number of staff escorting inmates on a daily basis resulting in the closure of vocational training workshops, the library, and the livestock management site.

Lavis found that outsourcing the transport service would cut public spending and improve efficiency and help the prison open its vocational training unit.

He also noted that if the transportation services were outsourced, there will be no assumption of a reduction in staff for either the prison or police services, since the prison is already short of 18 officers.

Those prison officers currently used to escort prisoners would be redeployed to the areas of offender rehabilitation, and auxiliary police officers would be redeployed to provide front line assistance to police officers.

See the Strategic Assessment on the CNS Library

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Category: Government Finance, Politics, Prison

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I smell that one security firm in Cayman about to make a killing of this proposition. Wonder how many CIG officials are on the take from these security contracts?

  2. Johnny says:

    Using private security firms could work on such a small island with limited location movements we have, however, having the correct trained staff to do it is the problem, it’s not all about cost, public safety and correctly trained staff doing this job is paramount

  3. MM says:

    I am still trying to figure out how the government is going to save money with this when the intention is to retain all the officers currently doing this work even after privatizing the transportation portion of their duties… How can anyone save by adding a cost?

    I must be missing something, but I cannot wrap my head around how anyone can save money without reducing cost. ?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Who is the Prison accountant? Please act your role and advise the Prison Director of how to reduce cost at the Prison. It’s a crying shame you’re paid for what he’s putting forth before the media! If you had no say, it’s still a reflection on your part.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ha! Ha! Just the contents of this article makes me want to puke! The facts that have been put forth is poor. Cut the chaise and say that the bid would be to the bidder of the security system that Gov’t paid so heavily for to have at the prison.

    Everyone wants to suck Government of its cash! I don’t care how many accountants Government have employed they still can’t figure out the number of criminals that are working on the inside.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hope whoever the choose does a better job that G4S did in the UK.

    • Anonymous says:

      And better than the security firm involved with securing the GT Police HQ where so much cocaine and other drugs went missing….and no one held to account.

  7. Cheese Face says:

    Please please please legalise gambling so I can bet on which firm gets the contract!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Stop giving concessions to the rich developers and we could afford to do this ourselves. I have heard of stupid ideas but this is on of the best so far. Sacrifice security because we can’t afford it. I am glad an election is coming.

  9. MM says:

    I believe the transportation of prisoners is the least to be worrying about privatizing. And I could not imagine how privatizing this area of the prison service would reduce expenses because, like the article has stated, dozens of prisoners must be transported daily.

    I would guess that a private security company would charge about $15 ph per guard; and there are probably a minimum of six prisoners a day that require some form of transport (some of which require a minimum of 2 guards) and we could expect at least 6 hours of work for 6 officers for 5 days per week (then there is double pay on public holidays and Sundays) and overtime charges etc… and then we must factor in the low-security prisoners who come out on volunteer work for about 8 or 9 hours per day; and the prisoners who come out daily to attend paid work etc… I can’t imagine how this can all be cheaper than utilizing the service of police, prison officers and already acquired special vehicles already on payroll… replaced with untrained, unaccountable, private security…

    Now if they [Government] want to say that they intend on reducing the prison budget by exporting non-Caymanian prisoners immediately after serving the first 3-months of any sentence handed down by our local Court for offenses on our turf, THAT would have a major impact on the prison budget.

    According to the ESO there were 43 non-Caymanian prisoners incarcerated in the Cayman Islands as of 2015: 43 prisoners x 78,000 per year each = KYD$3,354,000….

    So, my dear Government; let’s compare KYD$3 million+ to your quarter million dollar (less than KYD$250,000) savings…

    Who elected these people??? Oh yes…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Right, let’s go all in and privatize the prison here so we can make all the same mistakes the US has made with this pipe dream. Why not privatize the fire and police departments, too, while we’re at it? I’m sure David Legge and the chamber of commerce will back it. Who cares about quality of service, human rights, and safety if a profit can be made, right?

    • Anonymous says:

      ok …keep paying $68k per year per prisoner under the current regime….
      the civil service only excels at inefficency…..

  11. Anonymous says:

    Talk about prison escapees if this happens. The Govt will then spend one million per year in overtime to catch them back.

  12. Anonymous says:

    While other countries are moving away from privatized incarceration (I know this proposal is just a fraction of that) Cayman is considering it because business interests want to make money off of necessary services. Shameful. – If I had wanted EY to run the country I would have voted for them at the last election. (Or the next.) But I didn’t. And I will not. Them, nor their cronies.

  13. SSM345 says:

    “Home Affairs ministry has released a strategic assessment on the possibility of contracting out the movement of inmates from the prison or police cells to court or hospital and back to a local security firm.”

    I wonder which local security firm that is Eric………now you can track the movements of the vans with our national CCTV system!

  14. Anonymous says:

    who cares at this stage? ppm will spend hundred of thousands ona report that they will just disregard anyway……
    look at miller shaw…look at e&y reports on the civil service…

  15. Anonymous says:

    the whole prison service should be privatised. end of story.

  16. Distract, deflect, delay. says:

    The Government here is nothing short of insane.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Any one else smell an attempt to give TSC another lucrative contract?

    • Ml6 in Paradise says:

      No conflicts of interests or perception exists within the PPM government where a husband can write a report that potentially benefits his wife’s new employers XXX which is then approved by the CO of the Ministry which will potentially benefit a company XXX, where the CO is a former director and receives benefits with allegations of having a pecuniary interest being a frequent topic of within the halls of power. Will the Auditor General and ACC look into this matter?

  18. Anonymous says:

    But not CAL??? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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