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Government prisons plan revealed

Two 1,500-place jails in East London and Essex will kick-off the Government’s revised expansion of the prisons estate, it has been revealed.

Justice secretary Jack Straw said the Ministry of Justice was working to secure sites at Beam Park West in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and Runwell in the Borough of Chelmsford.

Mr Straw confirmed that the Government was dropping controversial plans to build three huge Titan jails housing 2,500 inmates each from next year. Instead it will build five 1,500-place prisons, with just two starting in the near future.

It is understood that the Treasury wanted the MoJ to keep the cost of the prison expansion down as it battles to reduce huge public debt. However, the plans for large Titan jails had been criticised in some quarters as less likely to rehabilitate prisoners.

The Government said the new prisons would:

  • Be modern, purpose-built institutions of punishment and reform
  • Hold only adult male prisoners
  • Not be overcrowded
  • Comprise smaller, separate units
  • Be safe and secure
  • Effectively address offending behaviour

Mr Straw said: ‘The measures I have announced today will make still further improvements to protecting the public from crime and reducing reoffending.”