Treasury commits to funding new mega-prisons

The government’s plans to build two new mega-prisons has been re-affirmed this week following the publishing of the Treasury’s Budget. The demolition of HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire to make way for a mega-prison will now be publicly funded by the Treasury. It will imprison more than 1,680 people.

The announcement comes with a U-turn on the original plans announced in June 2018 to build one of the prisons as part of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

When asked the costs of the build, the MOJ respond with “While we cannot comment at this stage on the anticipated cost, the newest prison in the estate, HMP Berwyn in North Wales, cost £220 million when it was built in 2015-16”. Previous press releases stated the costs of the build to be £170m.

A new mega-prison at the site of HMP Wellingborough in Northamptonshire is also to be funded by the tax-payer. In June 2018, Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said “The two prisons together will provide a further 4,000 places and should be part of a programme of six new prisons to provide space for a further 10,000 people”.

The two mega-prisons are part of the government’s Prison Estates Transformation Programme. A £1.3 billion programme that aims to create 10,000 new prison places that is the focus of Corporate Watch’s new report, Prison Island.

Commentators on the budget believe that the Ministry of Justice’s budget will keep falling for years to come and question the ability of the MOJ to not only build but run these prisons. Julian Le Vay, the previous Finance Director for the Prison Service wrote last year that the programme faces a £1.6bn shortfall.

Groups in the Midlands are organising against the project as part of Midlands Anti Expansion Network. National campaign Community Action on Prison Expansion have also been fighting the developments.

Corporate Watch’s Prison Island report published in September details the companies involved in the prison builds. These include Kier Construction, Interserve, Mace and more. Download the full report here for free or order a copy online.