Hugh Taylor, a former prison service director who is currently strategy and business development director in the Department of Health, is being tipped as favourite to become the new head of the National Offender Management Service.
Taylor was named by sources this week among the possible applicants to replace Martin Narey.
Helen Edwards, former head of criminal justice charity Nacro, who now leads the active communities unit at the Home Office, was also named.
The Home Office said it was unable to comment until the appointment was announced.
In a written answer in the House of Commons last week, Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart said there had been 10 applications for the post, and that interviews had been held.
Narey, the former NOMS director who is now head of children’s charity Barnardo’s, has written a damning article on prison overcrowding to be published in December.
Writing in the Howard League for Penal Reform’s magazine, HLM, Narey stated: “As I leave, I cannot pretend to be other than dismayed at a prison population now heading towards 78,000.”
As expected, home secretary Charles Clarke last week formally announced plans under NOMS to open up the probation service to independent and voluntary sector competition.