MoJ values Norwich Prison at £50 million - but say no decision on its future has been made
09:20 24 February 2016
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015
Norwich’s historic prison has been valued at £50.5m in documents which have emerged after justice secretary Michael Gove said he was weighing up a sell-off of city centre Victorian jails.
The figure – the audited book value – was published in parliamentary documents in response to a question from Labour’s shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter.
The Ministry of Justice said the figure – which includes the prison, the land and other dwellings – was calculated as the cost of replacing existing assets with a modern equivalent and it was not the same as a commercial valuation, which would be commissioned if it were to be sold off.
Norwich city council leader Alan Waters, who is the district councillor for the ward, said people employed and associated with the prison would be interested in the figure, and said the government, Ministry of Justice and the local MP should clarify any future plans there might be for the prison.
While Norwich MP Chloe Smith said she did not think much should be read into the figures.
“I would expect every government department to know how much its property is worth, this is something you do as a matter of good management and audit.
“This information seems separate to me to the idea that has been put forward about the future of Victorian prisons.
“As Norwich prison is in my constituency I will closely monitor for any announcements.”
Her neighbouring MP, Labour’s Clive Lewis, warned against a sell-off. “£50m is lot to risk with a government that seems to be obsessed with the price of everything but cares little for the value of anything.
“If Norwich prison is sold off and is replaced by something else hundreds of miles away that would be bad for prison jobs in our city and increase the chances of inmates re-offending after release.
“There is clear evidence which shows that the more a family can see their relatives in prison, the less re-offending after release.
“That quite simply won’t be possible if relatives local to Norwich prison have to travel to remote replacements that could be in the North of England.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “We are closing down ageing and ineffective prisons and investing £1.3bn in a modern prison estate, which provides better opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption.
“No decisions have been made about where new prisons will be built and which prisons may close.”
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