The Government is to start feasibility work on what would be Britain’s biggest prison as part of a major programme of updating Britain’s prison estate. The new prison could hold more than 2,000 prisoners.
As part of the improvement programme, four new houseblocks will also be built. The current intention is that these new places will be built at HMPs Parc in South Wales, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, The Mount in Hertfordshire and Thameside in London. In total they will be able to hold up to 1,260 prisoners and they will replace older, more expensive prison capacity.
The new developments will allow the Ministry of Justice to close six smaller, older and more expensive prisons, and to close parts of three others.
The prisons affected are HMPs Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston, Shepton Mallet and Shrewsbury, with some accommodation at HMPs Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight also closing.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
‘We have to bring down the cost of our prison system, much of which is old and expensive. But I never want the Courts to be in a position where they cannot send a criminal to prison because there is no place available. So we have to move as fast as we can to replace the older parts of our prison system. That’s why we are moving ahead with immediate plans for new prison capacity, as well as closing older and more expensive facilities.’
The programme is part of the Government’s drive to build new capacity to replace older prisons and so bring down the cost of operating the prison system. It is expected to save £63 million a year.