Acevo smiles on Straw's prison plans

Voluntary organisations will bid to help run prisons and probation services

Chief executives body Acevo has welcomed plans by justice secretary Jack Straw to allow voluntary organisations to play a wider role in the running of prisons and probation services.

Until now, charities have largely been restricted to providing offender management services.

But Straw this week opened the door to a greater role for the sector in a series of measures that he said would "make still further improvements to protecting the public from crime and reducing re-offending".

He said only voluntary and private sector providers would be eligible to bid for the construction and operation of new-build prisons over the next three years.

Straw said voluntary sector providers could bid to run two poorly performing prisons, Birmingham and Wellingborough, as well as five other prisons whose contracts were due to be renewed.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, which strongly advocates the running of more public services by charities, said: "We have been calling for some time for the sector's role to be taken to the next level.

"This step is to allow charities to compete with the private and public sectors to run a much broader swathe of prisons and probationary services."

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