Superprisons ‘must replace old lock-ups’

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More than 30 “run-down and poorly-located” jails should be shut and replaced with super-prisons holding up to 3,000 inmates, a former prison governor and deputy director at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said.

In a report for think-tank Policy Exchange, Kevin Lockyer said the MoJ could meet its entire 2015/16 spending commitments by swapping old jails for 10 to 12 new plus-size prisons.

The new prisons would be “materially different” from Labour’s 2007 plans for Titan prisons, Mr Lockyer said, and would have a campus-style design centred on a shared-service hub.

In operational costs alone, Mr Lockyer claims the plan could save more than £600m a year on completion – 20 per cent of the prison budget.

Mr Lockyer, who was governor at two Victorian-era prisons, said: “New hub prisons will not only reduce reoffending and improve safety, they will also deliver vast financial savings and better value for money for the taxpayer.”

Mr Lockyer said the construction of the new prisons could be financed through public sector borrowing, private finance or development finance and claims the savings would amount to about £10bn over a 25-year repayment period.

Among the prisons recommended for closure by Mr Lockyer are Brixton, Feltham, Holloway, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs.

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “There is scope to close some outdated prisons and reinvest the money saved into effective community solutions to crime.

“The Prime Minister thinks, and prison governors, prison officers, independent monitoring boards and prison inspectors agree, that the idea that big is beautiful with prisons is wrong.”