Outgoing prisons watchdog Nick Hardwick to take on top job at the Parole Board

Written by Civil Service World on 26 January 2016 in News

Nick Hardwick – who clashed with the MoJ over spending controls – is to become chair of the Parole Board

Outgoing prisons watchdog Nick Hardwick – who recently clashed with the Ministry of Justice over the funding of his inspectorate – has been appointed as chair of the Parole Board by justice secretary Michael Gove.

A Commons committee hearing last week revealed that Hardwick, set to be replaced as chief inspector of prisons at the end of the month, had written to the MoJ's permanent secretary Richard Heaton expressing concern about the independence of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). 

The row followed a series of controls brought in at the MoJ to deal with an overspend, and prompted Hardwick to warn that the ministry appeared to be assuming "day to day" control of his organisation. Heaton told MPs, however, that there had been a "misunderstanding" over the nature of the new measures.

Ministry of Justice perm sec Richard Heaton: "misunderstanding" led to independence spat with prisons inspector Nick Hardwick
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In a statement published on Tuesday, justice secretary Gove announced that Hardwick would now take up post at the Parole Board, the independent body funded by the MoJ to carry out risk assessments on prisoners awaiting release into the community.

The PB's current chair, Sir David Calvert-Smith, is due to step down by March 31, but Gove said the date on which Hardwick's three-year term would begin had yet to be decided.

He added: "I would like to put on record my thanks to Sir David for his service in this role."

Hardwick was a member of the Parole Board's Serious Case Review committee from 2010 to 2015, and has also been chair of the Housing Ombudsman Service and executive chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

During his time as prisons inspector, Hardwick – who chose not to reapply for the HMIP post – published a series of critical reports on the state of jails in England and Wales. His final annual report in the role highlighted ongoing concerns over prison staffing levels, as well as a rise in self inflicted deaths during his five years in post.

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