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With plans underway to modernise the prison estate across England and Wales, we take a closer look at the most recent proposals to create 5,000 ‘modern prison places’.

The announcement includes plans for new prisons at Port Talbot in Wales and Full Sutton near York, while HMP and Young Offender Institution (YOI) in Rochester in Kent and HMP and YOI Hindley in Wigan will be redeveloped. Both will close while rebuilding takes place. 

Modern prison places

The additional prison for Wales follows the opening earlier this year of HMP Berwyn in north Wales, which will hold over 2,000 prisoners.

As Britain's biggest, and costing £250m, it contains a health and wellbeing centre, an education block, a sports hall and a multi-faith area.

Whilst this, and the proposed new jails, will aim to deliver a better setting for those serving sentences, it is also envisaged they will offer a modern and progressive environment for professionals such as prison officers, offender healthcare professionals, mental health nurses and substance misuse professionals working in them.

The latest prison construction plans will see the creation of 5,000 modern prison places and also boost regional economies with construction and manufacturing jobs.

Hard work and self-improvement

The sites earmarked are part of the government’s commitment to build up to 10,000 modern prison places by 2020, underpinned by £1.3 billion of funding to transform the estate.

Ms Truss said the move is aimed at reducing overcrowding, creating the right conditions for reform and replacing old establishments with new, fit-for-purpose buildings.

“We cannot hope to reduce reoffending until we build prisons that are places of reform where hard work and self-improvement flourish,” she added.

“Outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions, will not help offenders turn their back on crime – nor do they provide our professional and dedicated prison officers with the right tools or environment to do their job effectively.”

Old prisons to be closed

The building programme will see old prisons closed, with announcements on those affected to be made later in the year.

A final decision on the two new prisons depends on planning approval and affordability and come under government reforms to improve safety in prisons, including an additional £100 million to bolster frontline staff by 2,500. The organisational reform will be supported by measures within the Prisons and Courts Bill.

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