UK prison expertise is sold to Saudi Arabia

Written By: David Hencke
Published: January 10, 2015 Last modified: October 25, 2016

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is promoting the sale of British prison expertise to the repressive regime of Saudi Arabia which beheaded 59 people and flogged hundreds more last year.

The export of British expertise is part of a “win, win” situation, according to Mr Grayling, and aims to bring in profits for the British taxpayer by selling prison service techniques to anyone who will pay for them.

Another big contract is to the Royal Oman Police to help design and build a prison for a regime that also tramples on political rights and has been accused of mistreating political dissidents.

Information about these two contracts has been disclosed in a mid-term report by the Ministry of Justice.

It reveals that the ministry has set up a social enterprise organisation to

sell British expertise to foreign governments called Just Solutions International, which has already raised £551,000 profit for the taxpayer and plans to make much bigger profits during the current financial year.

The report says: “Just Solutions international (JSi), is the commercial brand for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) promoting products and services to international justice markets.

In August 2014, JSi submitted a £5.9 million proposal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of Finance to conduct a training needs analysis across all the learning and development programmes within the Saudi Arabian Prison Service.

Also in August, JSi submitted a large-scale bid to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) proposing assistance for the design of a new prison. Discussions are currently taking place with ROP about further learning and development training programmes.”

The document states that Chris Grayling visited Saudi Arabia last September to sign a memorandum of understanding on judicial co-operation with the regime and promote British legal services and Doha in Qatar to promote co-operation. A junior justice minister, Lord Faulds, visited Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan during October, both also seen to be repressive regimes, and signed a memorandum of understanding on judicial co-operation in Kazakhstan.

Chris Grayling is passionate about the new ventures. He told a conference: “We are leading the world in our management of offenders and the reforms we are introducing will push us even further ahead of the pack. I’m proud that countries look to us when they want to improve and develop their own systems.”

“This social enterprise will build on our global reputation for innovation while getting best value, as any profits made will be put directly back into improving our own justice system, making it a win-win for hardworking taxpayers.”

Tribune asked the Ministry of Justice what his position on supporting a regime that beheaded and flogged offenders but had received no reply at the time of going to press.

About David Hencke

David Hencke is Tribune's Westminster Correspondent