As part of a £1.36 billion programme to transform the prison estate across the country, the government last week confirmed plans to build four new prisons to house 5,000 inmates. This is part of the commitment to create up to 10,000 modern prison spaces by 2020 in up to nine new prisons.
These four new prisons, at Full Sutton in Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan, Rochester in Kent and Port Talbot in South Wales will boost regional economies by creating up to 2,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing industries and new opportunities for local businesses. The announcement coincided with the opening of Berwyn Prison in North Wales, which added £100 million to the local economy along with hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships before it had even opened.
The prison population has stabilised over the last five years at approximately 85,000 inmates. In conjunction with the closure of several older, Victorian prisons, the Ministry of Justice is seeking to reduce overcrowding and modernise the way prisons operate with more focus on the rehabilitation of offenders. Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, said that the task of reforming offenders could not be undertaken successfully in “outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions” nor could prison officers hope to succeed in rehabilitating prisoners in such conditions.
In addition to creating thousands of jobs constructing new prisons, thousands more will be supported by the conversions of several former jails. HMP Shepton Mallet is being transformed into 96 flats and Dorchester Prison is currently being redeveloped into 185 apartments. Opportunities for local businesses are to be found across the country in this huge and lucrative project to overhaul the prison system in the UK.
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