Michael Spurr will leave his role at the end of March 2019 after 35 years in the service and nearly nine years leading it.
Justice Secretary David Gauke told Sky News yesterday that work needed to be done to improve the prison system amid a surge in violence and drug taking.
“I accept that there are things we need to do to improve our prison system – and we have already taken a number of steps,” he said.
He has now praised Mr Spurr’s work and says he is “extremely grateful” for his leadership.
“His focus has been unwavering 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 said.
“He is an example of the very best of public service and civil service leadership. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Michael into the New Year.”
The formal process to appoint a new chief executive will start next month.
Mr Spurr will remain in post and will be a part of the team that will manage the transition.