Plan to expand Norfolk sex offender jail

Ed FossA project to build a 100-prisoner extension block to HMP Bure will be considered in the coming weeks by planners in north Norfolk.Ed Foss

A project to build a 100-prisoner extension block to HMP Bure will be considered in the coming weeks by planners in north Norfolk.

HMP Bure has been up and running as a Category C jail on part of the former RAF Coltishall site at Scottow since November with a maximum capacity of 523 inmates.

But a continuing crisis in the prison population has led to the Ministry of Justice applying to increase its size.

HMP Bure serves as a specialist unit for male sex offenders.

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The intention to pursue the extension project was reported in the EDP in the spring, but the MoJ has now put in a planning application to North Norfolk District Council.

The new two-storey block would lie within the existing perimeter, so not increasing the size of the prison site. It would be 'infill' on the current area, which is approximately 30 acres.

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The MoJhas previously said it wants to complete the works by summer 2011.

The paperwork lodged with the council makes reference to the prison places crisis.

'When the planning application for the conversion of buildings at former RAF Coltishall to a Category C prison was submitted in April 2008, the prison population stood at 82,003,' says the application.

'At that time, this figure was the highest then on record. However, despite the measures that have been taken to reduce overcrowding in prisons, the prison population has subsequently risen to 85,078 as of April 23.'

The application also assures that the prison will remain Category C and that there are no trees which would need to be felled - an issue which was given great prominence when the initial prison planning application was discussed because dozens had to be felled.

The former WAAF quarters to the north-west of the secure perimeter of HMP Bure would have to be demolished according to the plans.

The application is expected to be discussed at a future meeting of the council's development control committee, which holds its next two meetings on July 8 and 29.

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