MoJ opens chequebook for new prisons chief with boosted salary offer of £200K

Job advert seeks "authoritative" figure to take over after a rocky year for the prisons service


The Ministry of Justice is seeking a new chief executive for HM Prison and Probation Service, after its former head Michael Spurr was asked to step down last month.

The new prisons chief will be paid between £140,000 and £200,000, according to a job advert posted today. The upper limit is a third more than Spurr was paid last year, according to HMPPS’s annual accounts, when the pay range for the role stood at between £145,000 and £150,000.

MoJ permanent secretary Richard Heaton said in September that it was time for a change of leadership at HMPPS, which has been heavily criticised after a series of damning prison inspections. 


One such inspection led the MoJ to take over the running of HMP Birmingham from the private contractor G4S after it revealed widespread violence and self-harm in the facility.

Announcing Spurr’s departure, Heaton said the prisons service needed to “look ahead” to the next decade. “I have therefore decided that April 2019 is the right time to ask a new chief executive to take on this important role,” he said.

The job ad says that “strong steps have been taken to tackle the challenges faced by the service in recent years,” and that Spurr’s replacement will be expected to build on this progress.

“Their success will be a distinctive contribution to the next chapter in the reform of prison and probation services,” it said.

The chief executive will oversee 42,000 employees, a range of private and third-sector contracts, and a budget of more than £4bn. “HMPPS is a large, complex, and high profile public service,” the advert notes.

The successful candidate will therefore need to be comfortable working in a “high profile, demanding public environment” and have “a track record of delivering excellent service through strategic, values-driven leadership and management of a large complex workforce”, it says.

The new prisons chief could be from a public or private sector background, but must have “the authority to operate at a senior level” within government and with external stakeholders, it says.

The position is being advertised as a five-year appointment with a possibility of extension.


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