In this chapter we discuss the recent course of privatisation and marketisation in UK prisons and probation. Prior to the Transforming Rehabilitation, TR, agenda, its theoretical strengths and weakness were analysed in some detail in the literature. It is appropriate therefore to consider whether the aspirations implicit and explicit in TR have been achieved. Since 2010, the progress of marketisation in prisons and probation has been uneven. In prisons, Outcomes Based Commissioning, aka Payment by Results, PbR, contracts were proposed but are not used in any significant way; instead the emphasis has been on new and devolved models of commissioning rehabilitation services and the development of Reform prisons. In probation, marketisation – often involving elements of PbR – proceeded rapidly from a small-scale pilot to a national roll-out. However, this model has come in for significant criticism and now appears unsustainable in its current form. Government has cancelled existing contracts early and one provider has failed. We consider the various approaches taken in prison and probation policy and draw out the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches that have been tried, drawing on the available evidence. We finish with some thoughts on the future (or otherwise) of marketisation in this sector.

Publication link

Full reference

Albertson, K., & Fox, C. (2020). “5: The progress of marketisation: the prison and probation experience”. In Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. Retrieved Sep 14, 2022, from