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Whatever the critics may think, the role of the private sector in the criminal justice system is now substantial, and set to expand.

Britain now has ten prisons run by private companies. Between them they house around six thousand offenders, or about eight per cent of the prison population.

Eight of these prisons have been built under the Private Finance Initiative. The buildings are designed and constructed by commercial groups, and in effect are leased back to the Prison Service over a period of 25 years.

Critics say that companies should not make a profit from housing prisoners. But many of the prviate prisons are among the best-run in the system, according to reports from the chief inspector of prisons.



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