Norfolk jail expansion plan 'flawed'

A Norfolk prison's watchdog described plans to expand the jail in an attempt to relieve the nation's overcrowding crisis as “deeply flawed”. Proposals to expand Wayland prison to house an extra 300 inmates were approved by Breckland Council earlier this year.

A Norfolk prison's watchdog described plans to expand the jail in an attempt to relieve the nation's overcrowding crisis as “deeply flawed”.

Proposals to expand Wayland prison to house an extra 300 inmates were approved by Breckland Council earlier this year. The plans will see five two-storey blocks constructed on the category C site near Watton.

It is part of the National Offenders Management Scheme's drive to tackle the prisons crisis and accommodate up to 10,000 extra inmates nationally. The prisons service has been operating above its 80,000 safe limit for more than a year.

In a letter to parliamentary under-secretary of state Maria Eagle, Wayland's Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which oversees standards within the jail, questioned the expansion scheme.


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The concerns come in just days after the EDP revealed the prison service was in the advanced stages of drawing up plans for a new facility on the disused RAF Coltishall site - despite previously branding the site unsuitable.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the county was being asked to bear the brunt of the nation's problems by accommodating prisons which would house very view inmates from East Anglia.

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Brenda Upton, chairman of the IMB, said the government's failure to build prisons in areas of greatest need had led to increasing numbers of offenders being sent far from home. At present, only 17pc of Wayland's inmates come from East Anglia whereas 29pc come from London.

She added: “Bearing this in mind, the logic in building a new quick-build extension to house an additional 300 prisoners at Wayland seems deeply flawed and based on expediency, given that we expect it to be occupied by prisoners from out of the area and foreign nationals.

“There is general agreement that to reduce reoffending, prisoners should be imprisoned close to their families. Public transport access to the middle of Norfolk is almost non-existent, time- consuming and costly and there is little left from most prisoners' wages after the purchase of simple necessities for them to make phone calls at 11p per minute.”

She raised further concerns over the overcrowding of Wayland, with 57 cells currently “doubled up”. The expansion will mean that the number of prisoners in double cells will increase from 114 to 414.

Miss Eagle said decisions on the location and function of new prison places were determined by the greatest need. Where possible new capacity was provided in areas of highest demand.

She added: “However, the current high population level throughout the prison estate does increase the risk of prisoners being transferred from their home area to establishments with a greater number of vacancies.”

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