“Prison building revolution” announced by Chancellor George Osborne and Justice Secretary Michael Gove

Chancellor George Osborne and Justice Secretary Michael Gove have unveiled a major new prison reform programme including plans to build nine new prisons across Britain.

The radical reforms will ensure Britain’s prison system is fit for purpose in the 21st Century, while the new prisons will allow the Government to close old Victorian prisons in city centres and sell the sites for new housing.

This will allow over 3,000 new homes to be built, boosting house building in urban areas and helping thousands of working people to achieve their dream of owning a home. The Victorian prison site at Reading will be the first to be sold.

Around 10,000 prison places will move from outdated sites to the new prisons, significantly improving rehabilitation and saving around £80 million per year due to the reduced costs associated with today’s more modern facilities.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “This latest Spending Review is about reform as much as it is about making savings. One important step will be to modernise the prison estate. So many of our jails are relics from Victorian times located on prime real estate in our inner cities. We’re going to reform the infrastructure of our prison system, building new institutions which are modern, suitable and rehabilitative. We will also close old, outdated prisons in city centres and sell the sites to build thousands of much-needed new homes.”

The Chancellor added: “This is a move designed to save money, reform an outdated public service and create opportunity by boosting construction jobs and offering more people homes they can buy.”

Five of the new prisons are scheduled to be open before the end of this Parliament. The Government will also complete the new prison being constructed in Wrexham and expand existing prisons in Stocken and also at Rye Hill.

Currently, half of the convicted criminal population re-offend within one year of being released, while nearly 50% of all prisoners go into prison without any qualifications to their name.

“Ageing and ineffective” Victorian prisons

The Chancellor and Justice Secretary made their announcement ahead of a visit to Brixton prison, a Victorian prison in South London.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove explained: “This investment will mean that we can replace ageing and ineffective Victorian prisons with new facilities fit for the modern world. We’ll be able to design out the dark corners which too often facilitate violence and drug-taking, and we’ll be able to build a prison estate which allows prisoners to be rehabilitated such that they turn away from crime.”

In conclusion, Gove commented: “It’s only through better rehabilitation that we will reduce re-offending, cut crime and make our streets that much safer.”

The Spending Review details £1.3 billion of capital investment over the next five years to transform the prison estate so that it better supports rehabilitation.

There will be more than £700 million of investment in the courts and tribunals system to create a swifter, more proportionate justice system estimated to generate savings of approximately £200 million per annum from 2019-2020.

Savings to the Ministry of Justice’s administrative budget are set to reach 50% by 2019-2020.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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