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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Former Prison Service boss Phil Wheatley to work for private security firm

Former Prison Service boss Phil Wheatley to work for private security firm

Trade union fury as Phil Wheatley becomes a consultant for G4S

Phil Wheatley starts work as a consultant for G4S next month. Photograph: Observer

Trade unions have reacted furiously to news that the former head of the Prison Service is to become an adviser to a private security company bidding for multimillion-pound contracts to run jails.

Phil Wheatley was until June the head of the National Offender Management Service (Noms), the organisation responsible for overseeing the 260,000 offenders who pass through the prison and probation system each year.

During Wheatley's time in charge, the Ministry of Justice introduced measures that opened the way for more jails to be run by the private sector.

From next month, Wheatley will work as a consultant to G4S, the security company that employs 595,000 employees around the world and is looking to bid for a plethora of contracts from the ministry.

G4S already manages four UK prisons, three secure training centres and three immigration centres, but is seeking to capitalise on the coalition government's apparent enthusiasm for expanding the role of the private sector.

G4S said Wheatley's new role had been registered with the advisory committee on business appointments and fully complied with all of its requirements. He is prohibited from personally lobbying ministers or civil servants on behalf of G4S for 12 months from the date when he stood down from his previous job.

However, the probation officers' union, Napo, questioned whether there was a conflict of interest in Wheatley working for G4S so soon after standing down as director general.

"It's a concern that this appointment has been made so quickly," said Harry Fletcher, Napo's assistant general secretary. "Until June, Phil Wheatley had oversight of the tendering process. He would know what it takes for private bids to succeed."

David Banks, managing director of G4S care and justice services, said Wheatley's "extensive experience in the prison service... will be of enormous benefit as we seek to develop our care and justice portfolio around the world".

Wheatley joins an exodus of prison governors from the public sector to the big security firms which, along with G4S, include Sodexho and Calyx.


James Higham said...

It seems to be getting closer and closer to the Johnny English [film] scenario of Pascal Sauvage, which was to turn the country into a huge privately run prison.

Barnacle Bill said...

Once again we see a very well paid civil servant going to the private sector not because of any success in his civil service career, but because of who he is and who he might know.
If they do this they should be forced to give up their gold plate pension and look forward to enjoying the state one like the rest of us.

jailhouselawyer said...

James: For along time I have believed that we have the closed prisons and so-called freedom is actually a large open prison.

BB: I have read about a Hull Council employee who retired with a golden handshake, only to take another job with the council in Cornwall. I would say there is a difference in Phil Wheatley's case.

I have to admit a bias, he is a friend of mine for over 30 years. I think starting off his career in the accelerated promotion scheme he went from a basic grade prison officer to DG. That in my book is a success. I happen to think he did a good job in trying circumstances. He saw which way the wind was blowing and jumped before he was pushed. I suspect he had already lined up the soft landing. Personally, I would prefer his involvement than the likes of Jonathan Aitken in the future of prisons. And, his actions more honourable than MPs who take cash for access.

Barnacle Bill said...

Point taken John, and seeing as he's a mate of yours', I'll take him off my little list.

jailhouselawyer said...

BB: Don't take him off your list just because of me, I am sure the "Exocet" can stand up for himself.

One of the things in the pipeline is that Erwin James is excited about the proposal to write my biography, and his agent is also very interested.

During the mid to late 60s Phil Wheatley was a law student at Leeds University and used to drink in the Skyrack pub where I earned extra money as a waiter. We went separate ways. At one stage he was a Superintendent of Parks in Leeds, and more recently we have talked about the problems in the park over Rocky. So, we keep in touch.

I turned down an unofficial IRA request to accept a contract on Phil's life. It was at a time when tensions were high in Gartree Prison where he was Deputy Governor, and there were peace talks going on between Thatcher government and the IRA. I watched as some of them, including Paddy Hill of the Birmingham 6 and Paul Hill of the Guildford 4, shat and pissed in a bucket which they tipped over Phil Wheatley's head and patted it down. He spluttered and some of the staff splutered with laughter before ringing the alarm bell because it was an assault.

When he was No1 Governor of Hull Prison and I was in the Special Unit, he arranged for Lucy Vulliamy to come in and give me social skills. Lucy put him down once when he flippantly said she had time on her hands. Lucy replied that with a husband and 5 kids she had to make time!

Barnacle Bill said...

Interesting all that John, perhaps Mrs. Dale could publish the book, now she has more time on her hands!