MoJ reveals plans to build four prisons in England and Wales

22 Mar 17

Plans for four prisons capable of holding 5,000 inmates have been announced by the Ministry of Justice today.

The sites earmarked for development are Full Sutton in Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan, Rochester in Kent and Port Talbot in South Wales.

These will be delivered with funds from a £1.3bn pot to improve the prison estate.

The proposals, which will require planning permission, are part of the government’s commitment to provide 10,000 modern prison places by 2020.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We cannot hope to reduce reoffending until we build prisons that are places of reform where hard work and self-improvement flourish.

“Outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions, will not help offenders turn their back on crime – nor do they provide our professional and dedicated prison officers with the right tools or environment to do their job effectively.”

But Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the charity Howard League for Penal Reform, said there was little evidence this would solve the current “crisis” with the prison system.

“The government is pinning a great deal of hope that its capital investment in new prisons will help to solve the current crisis behind bars, with very little evidence to support that contention,” he commented.

“Today’s announcement confirms the MoJ is still committed to building larger prisons which can make economies of scale, even though smaller institutions can be safer and more stable.”

Politicians need to “grasp the nettle” that prison populations were too large, with too many people jailed for too long, to improve the system, he added.  

Prison suicide rates are at an all-time high, with 119 self-inflicted deaths in 2016, which was 29 more than the previous year, MoJ figures show, highlighted by Public Finance last month.

The government stats also reveal there were 37,784 self-harm incidents, a record high, and 25,049 assault incidents.

It is not known how many places proposed jails will hold but it is thought there will be more than 1,000 in each.

The MoJ says they will boost regional economies and create 2,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing.  

This comes after the opening of HMP Berwyn, a newly-built prison in north Wales, which will hold over 2,000 prisoners.

The government is currently carrying out a review of possible closures of old and inefficient prisons – an announcement on these findings is expected later this year.

It announced an additional £100m to bolster frontline staff by 2,500 earlier this year.

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