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Prisons to close

Prisons to close

Chris Grayling has unveiled plans to close seven prisons in order to build the UK's biggest ever facility, with the capacity to house up to 2,000 inmates.

The Justice Secretary announced that six prisons are closing plus one of the three amalgamated jails on the Isle of Wight.

The prisons to close are Bullwood Hall in Essex, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston in Portsmouth, Shrewsbury, and Camp Hill on the Isle of Wight. Shepton Mallet in Somerset, the UK's oldest working prison, is also among those to be shut.

In a Written Ministerial Statement released today, Mr Grayling said: "The decision to close, or partially close places in these establishments is based on the suitability, sustainability and the cost of this accommodation. Closures form just one part of our strategy to improve the operation of our prison estate and drive down the costs to the public."

The Justice Secretary also confirmed that feasibility work would begin shortly on a new mega-prison, which would hold around 25% more inmates than the largest current facility.

Mr Grayling said the plan for larger prisons was designed to help relieve financial pressures on the Justice department.

"We’re, like every other Government department, faced by financial pressures over the next few years – the need to bring down costs, the need to reduce our budgets," he told BBC Radio 4's the World at One programme.

"I’m very clear that I don’t want to do that by slashing huge chunks out of the prison estate. What I want to do is bring down the costs of keeping people in prison and the truth is it’s much cheaper to keep someone in a new prison than it is in an old one."

But Labour voiced doubts over the plan. Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said: "You always need capacity in our prisons. You bring down the prison population by bringing down crime; you bring it down by stopping offenders reoffending; you don’t try to close prisons simply to save money."

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