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Plans unveiled for new prison to be built in Port Talbot

Credit: PA Images

Plans for a new prison in Port Talbot will be unveiled by Justice Secretary Liz Truss on Wednesday as the UK Government steps up its drive to reform the jail system.

The prison, which will be category C, is expected to be located on land in the Baglan area.

Sites at Full Sutton in Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan, and Rochester in Kent have also been earmarked for development as part of a pledge to create up to 10,000 modern prison places by 2020.

The announcement is the latest step in a £1.3 billion revamp of the estate first launched under Ms Truss's predecessor, Michael Gove, amid concerns a number of facilities were overcrowded and run-down.

All four proposed sites are on publicly owned land. The Ministry of Justice said final decisions on the new jails would be subject to planning approval, value for money and affordability.

The modernisation drive moved forward earlier this year with the opening of a new prison, HMP Berwyn, in Wrexham. It will hold more than 2,000 inmates.

Ministers are also planning to close the most dilapidated and outdated prison buildings, with a programme of valuation work being carried out to inform further decisions about the estate.

Announcements on further jail closures are expected later in the year.

We cannot hope to reduce re-offending until we build prisons that are places of reform where hard work and self-improvement flourish.

Outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions, will not help offenders turn their back on crime - nor do they provide our professional and dedicated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.

– Liz Truss MP, UK Justice Secretary

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, says the construction and running of a prison in Port Talbot would bring "much needed" work to the local area.

However, we will need to look very closely at the planning application to ensure that it is sited in a suitable location, that local people and skills are utilised, and that local materials are central to the construction of the site.

The Ministry of Justice must provide further information, because the community must be on board. The onus is on the government to reach out and engage with us.

But if these necessary safeguards are in place, and the community is part of the decision-making and construction process, then this is something that should be welcomed, because the project could be a welcome boost for the local community and economy.

– Stephen Kinnock MP

As part of the announcement on the future of the prison estate, it's been revealed that many Victorian sites will undertake a valuation - including HMP Cardiff.

I welcome the aim of modernising the prison estate both to improve conditions for prisoners and prison staff and to support effective rehabilitation. Since the start of the Tory and Lib Dem coalition in 2010, our prisons have rapidly deteriorated into a crisis state with levels of violence against prison staff, drug finds, prisoner suicides and self-harm at record levels. HMP Cardiff in my constituency is a Victorian prison, with a 45% rate of overcrowding, but I am told by the Prisons Minister that no decision has been taken about its future and that the new prison to be built in Port Talbot is not a replacement for Cardiff or for HMP Swansea. Neither has the Minister confirmed whether the new Port Talbot prison will be publicly or privately run.

It is clear to me that the appointment of Savills as valuers is a precursor to selling the Cardiff Prison site. I will be demanding specific assurances from the government that prison staff, prisoners and access for families to visit will be the top priorities in decisions about HMP Cardiff’s future and, that if the site is to be sold, the full market rate will be achieved so the taxpayer, not private property investors, get the best deal."

– Jo Stevens MP, Cardiff Central