Kevin Curley submits Freedom of Information request to Ministry of Justice

Navca chief executive wants details about Turning Point and Catch22's involvement in running prisons

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to the Ministry of Justice as part of his campaign against charities running prisons.

Curley has requested details of the contract awarded to a consortium including social care charity Turning Point and youth charity Catch22 to run two prisons.

The charities, together with support services company Serco, were last month awarded the contract to run Belmarsh Prison in London and Maghull Prison in Liverpool.

Curley has publicly opposed the idea of charities running prisons. He has set up a Facebook page called Charities Must Not Run Prisons, which currently has 108 members.

On the page, he writes: "Charities must champion social justice and fight the social disadvantage that results in crime. If charities run prisons it will undermine public confidence in them and subvert the capacity of charities to challenge the abuse of state powers. The charitable motive is too important to contaminate with involvement in punishing people."

Curley wrote to the Charity Commission last month to argue that running prisons was not a charitable purpose. But the regulator said it would consider any application to run a charitable prison on its own merits.

Curley said he had submitted his freedom of information request to confirm the extent of the charities' responsibilities for running the prison. He said: "We should know whether the charities will have a role in all aspects of running a prison or just areas related to their charitable aims."

He also welcomed support he had received for his campaign, especially from penal reform charities such as the Howard League for Penal Reform. "I feel their specialised knowledge is what is needed to take this campaign further," he said.

A spokesman for Catch22 said Curley had never approached any member of the consortium for information or clarification.

He said the contract with the National Offender Management Service was held by Serco, with the charities essentialy being subcontractors. But he said there was no lead partner within the alliance itself. "The agreement between Serco, Turning Point and Catch22 is currently governed by a memorandum of understanding," he said. "Catch22 will lead on areas that require its particular expertise and will not be responsible for security in the prison." He said Serco would be responsible for security.

  • Read Third Sector Online tomorrow for an article by Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, on why charities should not run prisons.

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