Wrexham super-prison site so big you could fit Millennium Stadium in it 7 times over
Wrexham’s £200m “flagship” super-prison site is so big you could fit the Millennium Stadium in it seven times over with room to spare
The huge facility, which will house more than 2,000 prisoners, was also described as being at the “heart” of the UK Government’s “rehabilitation revolution”.
The Daily Post was today given an insight into the Ministry of Justice’s vision for the prison during a wet and muddy tour of the 120 acre site, followed by a conference at Glyndŵr University where it was confirmed that a decision on whether the jail will be run by the public or private sector was “imminent”.
Prison will have a football pitch, gym, sports hall, education block and 12 workshops
‘The prison will be screened by 2,106 trees – one for every inmate’
Construction firm Lend Lease, who are tasked with building the prison on the town’s old Firestone factory site by 2017, are due to start work on the first cell block in April.
The facility will have three in total – housing category C prisoners and a small percentage of Category B – along with 12 workshops, an education block, health centre, pharmacy, gym, sports hall and football pitch, and re-settlement and multi-faith units.
In total, the whole site spans 120 acres and will have two security fences, an administration block where visitors arrive and be screened by 2,106 trees – one for every inmate. The prison site alone is 65 acres.
Sarah Payne, director of the National Offender Management Service in Wales, believes access to education and training facilities is the best way to rehabilitate prisoners, and that the rest of the UK would be emulating Wrexham’s approach.
“A Spartan regime would not do society any favours at all,” she said during the tour. “You have to have a regime that is strong and decent.
“You want them to come out feeling that they have paid their debt to society and want to move forward.”
Mrs Payne also spoke at the North Wales Prison Symposium at Glyndŵr University – held to discuss how the town and region as a whole can benefit – and outlined the importance of the new prison.
“I’m responsible for overseeing the success of this project,” she said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Wrexham and North Wales that we want to see utilised.
“Nine hundred men from North Wales are in custody. They are taken quite a distance from their home. It means their families have to travel a long way – it’s difficult to maintain links and keep families together.”
‘It’s going to be there for the next 100 years’
Neil Caves OBE, Ministry of Justice new prisons programme manager, added: “This is going to be the prison everyone measures against and it’s going to be in Wales. It’s going to be there for the next 100 years. It’s more of a campus style – like going to school or college rather than just another room.”
Alun Cairns MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, who also visited the site for the first time, said the prison was at the “heart” of the Government’s rehabilitation aims to cut re-offending.
“The case for a new prison in North Wales has been strong,” he explained. “Being closer to their families is an important factor in reducing re-offending.”
100 new apprenticeships and £30m with local businesses
During the construction period Lend Lease has promised to recruit half its workforce from the local area, having already hit the 80% mark for preparatory works – with employees from the likes of Wrexham and Ruthin currently on site.
The North Wales Prison Symposium was designed to discuss with local business, education and training leaders the best way for Lend Lease to fulfil its commitment to providing 100 new apprenticeships and 500 work placement days per year, as well as spending £30m with local businesses within 50 miles of the site and £50m with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Iwan Trefor-Jones, of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, said it is vitally important that they exploit the opportunities handed to them through the prison project.
They will be helping to develop supply chains across the region as well as getting young people well placed to take advantage of apprenticeships and work placements.
“It’s so important for the future of the economy,” said Mr Trefor-Jones