Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has today announced that a new 2,000 place prison will be built in on the former Firestone site in Wrexham, north Wales.
Having secured a £250million investment, work on the biggest prison in England and Wales will begin on-site next summer, pending planning approval. This will be the first ever prison in north Wales.
The prison, which will be fully operational by late 2017, will be a significant driver of growth for the local economy, providing around 1,000 much-needed jobs, great opportunities for local businesses and millions of pounds worth of construction opportunities.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said:
This is a massive boost to the Welsh economy and a significant addition to the prison estate. It will also allow offenders from the region to be held closer to their homes, which we know helps prevent reoffending.
New prisons are better value and more efficient to run. Our priority is to provide enough prison places for those sent there by the courts — and to do so in a way that gives taxpayers the best possible value for money.
Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones said:
The case for a prison in north Wales has always been strong, which is why I am delighted that Wrexham has been selected as the preferred site for the newest addition to the prisons estate.
The construction of this much needed facility will bring with it considerable economic benefits for local businesses, and create up to 1,000 employment opportunities across the region. It will facilitate the rehabilitation of offenders by making them more accessible to their families, legal advisers and the probation service, enabling a smoother transition back into the community. It will also benefit prisoner welfare by allowing Welsh speakers more opportunity to speak the language in an environment where its cultural significance is understood.
This announcement comes as part of a wider programme to modernise the prison estate which is fairer on the hardworking tax payer, as detailed today by the Justice Secretary. In addition to building a new prison in Wrexham, feasibility work is underway into a second large prison to be constructed on the current Feltham site in West London.
Since January the Government has removed 2,800 unstrategic and uneconomic places and is now in a position to close a further four prisons, removing 1,400 uneconomic places from the estate.
Today it was announced that HMPs Blundeston, Dorchester, Northallerton and Reading are due to close by the end of the year. HMPs Downview, The Verne and Warren Hill are due to change function. These changes are anticipated to shave a further £30m from the overall prison budget.
We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts but at much lower cost and in the right places to help us cut reoffending rates.