The Prison Service and National Offender Management Service (Noms) are to merge as part of a reorganisation of the Ministry of Justice, justice secretary Jack Straw announced today
The move, which comes just four years after the creation of Noms, will come into place from 1 April.
In a written ministerial statement, Straw said the restructure took forward the proposals of a review by Lord Carter for "streamlining" management costs and reducing overheads.
He promised improved focus on frontline delivery of prisons and probation and improved efficiency.
Since its launch in 2004 Noms, which combined responsibility for prisons and probation, has attracted no shortage of criticism. The resignation of its first chief executive, Martin Narey, was accompanied by speculation that he was abandoning a "sinking ship" that was failing to protect the public or please professionals.
Following his resignation, Narey told Community Care he had "disagreed fundamentally" with then home secretary Charles Clarke about the number of people being sent to prison and the "inability" of the Prison Service to deal with the pressure.
Paul Cavadino, chief executive of crime reduction charity Nacro, welcomed the restructure and said he hoped the changes would mean more resources were directed towards front line services.
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