March 3, 2010: New Prisons Chief Inspector
The preferred candidate for the post of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales has been announced. HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), which is an independent inspectorate, has the role of inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promoting positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
Nick Hardwick, currently the Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, has been selected as the preferred candidate to succeed Dame Anne Owers, whose final report has just been published. The post of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales was established by the Criminal Justice Act 1982, amending the Prison Act 1952.
Mr Hardwick was identified following a selection process, that took into account the Commissioner for Public Appointment's Code of Practice as best practice. He was Chief Executive of the Refugee Council from 1995 to 2003, and worked as Chief Executive of Centrepoint from 1986 to 1995.
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons is a Crown appointment, and reports to the Justice Secretary on the treatment of prisoners and conditions in prisons in England and Wales. HM Chief Inspector also reports to the Home Secretary on conditions and treatment in all places of immigration detention in the United Kingdom.
On 1 March 2010, Justice Secretary Jack Straw invited the Justice Committee to hold a pre-appointment hearing and report on Mr Hardwick's suitability for the post.
Pre-appointment scrutiny hearings enable select committees to take evidence from candidates for certain key public appointments before they are appointed. Hearings are in public. Pre-appointment hearings are non-binding but ministers will consider the committee's views before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.
The Justice Secretary will consider the Justice Committee's views before making his final recommendation to Her Majesty.