HMP Wellingborough will close by the end of this year, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, announced today. This will see a reduction in 588 places in the prison estate and the work to implement this change will start immediately.
As of last Friday, the prison population was 86,562 and the prison estate had sufficient capacity for a further three and a half thousand prisoners. Capacity continues to grow and the number of available prison places is estimated to reach 91,600 by the end of the year, following the addition of new accommodation including the opening of two modern prisons, HMP Oakwood and HMP Thameside earlier in the year. As a result the opportunity exists to further improve the estate by closing uneconomic prison places at HMP Wellingborough.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, said:
‘The public has the right to expect continuing improvement in the quality and efficiency of public services, without compromising public safety. Closing outdated and expensive prisons is an important step in our strategy to deliver a fit for purpose modern custodial estate that can provide high quality, cost effective and secure regimes that protect the public and reform prisoners. Closing this one prison alone will save millions of pounds for the taxpayer.
‘The changes will reduce our current capacity by 588 places and I am confident that they can be safely managed within existing headroom, whilst maintaining our ability to cope with any potential increase in population.’
The closure of this prison will provide annual cost savings of over £10m per annum and avoid significant capital costs of up to £50m which would have been necessary to maintain the longer term viability of the prison. We expect to be able to absorb staff displaced by this process elsewhere in the system and to avoid the use of compulsory redundancies.
Decisions on the future size of the prison estate will be driven by population demand and prisons will only close when capacity allows. We will always ensure that there are sufficient places for those offenders sentenced to custody by the courts, including a margin to manage fluctuations in the prison population. Decisions to close future capacity will only be taken if they do not put this ability at risk.
Note to Editors:
- HMP Wellingborough is category C prison for adult males. The closure will reduce the prison capacity by 588 places.
- Two new prisons opened earlier this year, HMP Thameside (run by Serco) opened on 30 March 2012 and HMP Oakwood (run by G4S) opened on 24 April 2012. This increased capacity in the prison estate by around 2,500 spaces.
- On 13 July 2011 the Secretary of State for Justice announced the closure of HMP Latchmere House and Houseblock 7 at HMP Hewell (formerly know as HMP Brockhill.) On 13 January 2011 the Secretary of State for Justice announced the closure of HMP Lancaster Castle and HMP Ashwell prisons and the change of use of HMP Morton Hall to an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC).
- For further information please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.