Michael Spurr is to leave his post as chief executive of Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service next year after Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Richard Heaton decided there needed to be a change of leadership at the executive agency.
The MoJ announced that Spurr, who had headed up the agency running prisons and probation services across England and Wales for nine years, was to leave in March.
Heaton said a change of leadership was required at HMPPS, which has faced criticism after a series of damning prison inspections. One such inspection led the department to take over the running of HMP Birmingham from the private contractor G4S amid concerns over safety after new highs in levels of self-harm and assaults.
Heaton said today that Spurr was an exceptional public servant who was committed to the HMPPS, adding that his leadership had been “exemplary”.
However, he added: “But we now need to look ahead, building on Michael’s work and developing a strategy for 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.”
A spokeswoman for the MoJ confirmed to CSW that senior staffing decisions were the responsibility of the permanent secretary, who was taking the opportunity to review the top management structure for HMPPS.
Justice secretary David Gauke added that he was grateful to Spurr for his unwavering focus on doing the best for his staff and for victims of crime, on discipline in the prison estate and on caring for and rehabilitating offenders.
“He is an example of the very best of public service and civil service leadership,” Gauke added. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with Michael into the new year.”
The official notice of his departure included no quote from Spurr. A MoJ spokeswoman told CSW he would set out his future plans in due course.
The MoJ said that the formal process to appoint a new head of HMPPS will start in October.