Four new prisons are in the works across England and Wales. These so-called “supersized” prisons are expected to hold around 1,000 inmates each.
The new facilities, located at Full Sutton in east Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan, Rochester in Kent and Port Talbot in south Wales are part of a £1.3bn government programme to update UK prison developments.
During the next three years the government plans to build nine new prisons and create up to 10,000 modern prison places to reduce overcrowding.
According to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics in a report released last week, England and Wales have the highest incarceration rate in Western Europe. However, many prisons are not built to support the number of inmates they have; about 25 per cent of the prison population are doubled up in single-occupancy cells.
The Ministry of Justice said the four new construction projects will create up to an estimated 2,000 jobs and “generate millions of pounds to the British economy”.
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"Outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions, will not help offenders turn their back on crime – nor do they provide our professional and dedicated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," she added.
The Prison Reform Trust said building new prisons does not reduce the number of people incarcerated in the first place and closing prisons rather than opening new ones would reduce the demand.
Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“To ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of the government's plans for prison reform, we urgently need to see a comprehensive plan for the whole prison estate—showing how demand will be reduced and closing prisons we no longer need as a result. It should include when overcrowding will end, how far prisoners’ families will be expected to travel for visits, and when every prison will be equipped to the same modern standard to do the same job of rehabilitation.”
The Ministry of Justice said the final decisions will be based on planning approvals, value for money and affordability. It will also be open to the public prison service to bid to run the prisons along with private prison operators.