Prisons chief Jo Farrar promoted to MoJ second perm sec

Newly-created role brings together responsibility for HM Prison and Probation Service and three other delivery agencies
Jo Farrar Credit: Bath and North East Somerset Council

By Jim Dunton

17 Mar 2021

HM Prison and Probation service chief executive Jo Farrar is being promoted to the newly created-role of second permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice .

Farrar’s remit will include HMPPS but also adds responsibility for the Office of the Public Guardian, the Legal Aid Agency and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority into the mix.

MoJ perm sec Antonia Romeo, who moved to the ministry earlier this year from the Department for International Trade, said that the second-perm-sec role would be a “pivotal position” in the organisation, which has a staff of 75,000.

“As a major delivery department, MoJ has a challenging agenda to protect the public, reduce reoffending and provide swift access to justice,” she said.

“Jo brings a wealth of experience to the newly-created second permanent secretary role, which will lead four of our vital delivery agencies, as well playing a major role leading the whole of the MoJ group.”

Farrar, who was appointed to her current post at HMPPS in 2019, said her new role would be a “fantastic opportunity” to help shape the future of the MoJ “and a real privilege”.  

“People in the MoJ work incredibly hard to deliver essential public services and I am proud of everything we have achieved over the last two years,” she said.

“I look forward to taking on this new challenge and working with ministers and the permanent secretary to deliver a world-class justice system.”

A former council chief executive, Farrar joined HMPPS from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, where she was director general for government and public services. 

She succeeded Michael Spurr who was asked to stand down from his role following a torrid period for HMPPS that included riots, damning prisons inspections and 2018’s collapse of outsourcer Carillion, which provided some facilities management services for prisons, which were subsequently insourced by the departmet

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