1. ITV Report

Cameron vows 'wholesale reform' on prisons

Video report by ITV News' Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall.

David Cameron has called for "wholesale reform" of the UK's prison system.

Speaking at the Policy Exchange think-tank in London, the prime minister spoke of "resetting the terms of the debate" on prison reform, announcing a raft of initiatives.

But what is the prime minister proposing?

  • Adopting the 'academies' model

Mr Cameron spoke of bringing the Conservatives school academies model to the prison system, granting greater decision-making powers to prison governors.

Currently Whitehall sets national limits on the number of sheets of music and pairs of pants that prisoners can have in their cell, he said.

But under the reforms prison governors would have the freedom to manage their own budgets and choose prison suppliers.

Continuing the academies theme, the prime minister announced the creation of six "reform" prions - institutions that would have a "strong role for businesses and charities" in their operation.

A planned Prisons Bill will then spread the reform principles throughout the system, he said.

Mr Cameron wants to bring the academies model to prison reform Credit: PA
  • Publishing prison league tables

The prime minister said a lack of data on prisons means the government has "no idea" which of them should be considered a success.

He said under his reforms, "meaningful metrics" would be recorded and published in prison league tables, in a bid to encourage greater accountability.

Those metrics would include data on improvements in literacy levels and on employment for released prisoners.

There will also be financial incentive schemes to reward staff in the best performing prisons.

  • Building new facilities

Mr Cameron said many prisons in operation today were old and unfit for purpose, and pledged to build nine new prisons, five over the course of this parliament.

  • Increased education in prisons

The prime minister announced the formation of a new social enterprise to tackle education in prison, aimed at encourage talented graduates to work with offenders.

The venture will be chaired by David Laws, the Liberal Democrat's former education minister, and advised by charity Teach First.

Mr Cameron is escorted by prison governer Stephen Ruddy as he tours Onley prison in Rugby Credit: PA
  • Early removal of foreign offenders

In a bid to reduce the number of foreign nationals in British prisons, the prime minister announced plans to speed up deportation of prisoners.

That could see offenders declare their nationality in court.

Currently offenders are often sent to prison before their residential status is established.

  • Aiding prisoners on release

Also announced was a plan to follow the US "ban the box" campaign, which calls on employers to remove the tick-box on job application forms that indicates an applicant has criminal convictions.

Mr Cameron said the civil service would lead by example and remove the tick-box on its application forms.