French construction giant Bouygues has thrown its hat into the ring for the £1.8 billion new prisons framework.
The firm is understood to have submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire last month and would lean on its French experience both of building and operating prisons.
It brings a further element of foreign capabilities to the battle for the lucrative work, after Construction News revealed Balfour Beatty had teamed up with US prisons operator GEO Group for a shot at the framework.
Carillion is also known to have submitted a PQQ with its longterm prisons partner G4S Justice Services.
Meanwhile, Interserve is thought to have bid with Kaylx, and Swedish contractor Skanska with Serco. Problems finding an operating partner limited the number of contractors that could bid for the work, under which selected bidders will design, build and operate five 1,500-capacity prisons on PFI contracts of 20-40 years.
Willmott Dixon, Kier, Costain, Wates and John Laing had all been linked with the new prisons framework, but are not thought to have submitted PQQs.
The prisons form a key part of the Government’s plans to increase prison capacity to 96,000 places by 2014.
The Ministry of Justice expects to appoint a maximum of seven contractors to the framework, with possibly as few as three being invited to tender.
The framework will last for four years, with a possible extension of up to two years.
It is anticipated that the first two facilities will be at Beam Park West, in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and Runwell in Chelmsford, Essex.
Both are subject to obtaining the sites and outline planning consent.
The £1.8bn framework represents the replacement plan for the scrapped Titan prisons plan to build three 2,500-place jails.
Bouygues had sized up the Titan jails work before it was scrapped.
Justice secretary Jack Straw announced earlier this year that the Government was replacing the controversial Titan jail plans with the five smaller prisons.