December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
A north Suffolk prison is to close under Government plans to slash millions of pounds from the overall prison budget, it has been announced today.
Blundeston Prison, near Lowestoft, is one of four units earmarked for closure by the Ministry of Justice because they are sad to be either expensive to run or need substantial capital investment.
HMPs Dorchester, Northallerton and Reading will also be closed under the move, which the Government says will remove 1,400 uneconomic places from the estate and slash an anticipated £30 million a year from the overall prison budget.
The category C Blundeston Prison houses for around 524 prisoners that are predominantly from the East of England and employs more than 100 prison officers.
It offers rehabilitation programmes and gives prisoners the opportunity to work a full working week in industrialised workshops where they learn skills and earn qualifications.
The prison also has a 60-bed dedicated lifer wing, where staff are specially trained to support the needs of prisoners serving determinate and indeterminate life sentences.
The date and further details of the closure have yet to be confirmed.
The development forms part of the next stage in the Government’s prison modernisation programme, which it has set out today.
It includes confirmation that a planned new 2,000 place prison will be built in Wrexham, north Wales, and the news that the Government has started feasibility work on a second large prison to be constructed in the South East of England.
The feasibility study for the proposed second big new prison is focusing on the possibility of replacing the existing Feltham Young Offenders Institution with a large new adult prison and a new youth facility on adjoining sites in West London.
Opening dates for the new house blocks – mini-prisons – being built to create 1,200 new places at four sites across England have also been confirmed.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is the latest part of our plan to modernise our prisons, bring down costs, but to make sure that by the next election we still have access to more prison places than we inherited in 2010. The Feltham site in West London is a very large one, and is an obvious option for a major new project to help meet the challenges we face in London and the South East.
“I’m also really pleased that we have reached agreement on the new prison in Wrexham. It will provide a real boost to the local economy in North Wales over the next few years, which is one key reason why the chancellor has made sure we have the money for the project.
“Of course the reorganisation of our prison estate which we are undertaking means some difficult decisions – but we have to make sure that we have modern, affordable prisons that give the best opportunity for us to work with offenders to stop them committing more crimes when they leave.”
The plans also include changes to three existing prisons, HMP The Verne will be converted into an immigration removal centre, providing around 600 additional places to hold immigration detainees awaiting removal from the country. HMP Downview will change function to hold male rather than female offenders and HMYOI Warren Hill will stop holding young offenders and will also change to hold adult male prisoners.
Discussions will also begin to end the lease on HMP Dartmoor, which has a ten-year notice period.
The changes form part of the Government’s overall plans to reduce the cost of prison to taxpayers by more than £500 million within this Spending Review period.