Political News Updates

13.05.2014

Prisons

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what additional staffing requirements will arise in HM Prison Hull and HM Prison Chelmsford from the re-opening of closed wings; what the cost of this re-opening will be; and where any additional staff be sourced from; [197091]
(2) what extra capacity will be created by re-opening the closed wings at (a) HM Prison Hull and (b) HM Prison Chelmsford; [197092]
(3) how much will have been spent on maintining the closed wings at HM Prison Hull and HM Prison Chelmsford by the time both will re-open; [197093]
(4) how much has been spent maintaining the closed wings at HM Prison Hull and HM Prison Chelmsford to date; [197094]
(5) when the re-opened wings at (a) HM Prison Hull and (b) HM Prison Chelmsford will take prisoners; [197095]
(6) for what reasons the closed wings at (a) HM Prison Hull and (b) HM Prison Chelmsford were (i) closed and (ii) re-opened. [197096]

Jeremy Wright: We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts and continue to modernise the prison estate so that it delivers best value for the taxpayer.

This Government has a long term strategy for managing the prison estate. We will have increased the adult male prison capacity so that we have more places than we inherited from the previous Government.

The retention of significant spare prison capacity over and above what is required is expensive and cannot be justified given the current financial climate. The mothballing of spare capacity at HM Prisons Chelmsford and Hull saved the taxpayer £3.6 million in the financial year 2013-14. This compares to the significantly lower cost of maintaining this accommodation on a mothballed basis, so that it could be reactivated if necessary.

We have reviewed the refurbishment requirements at both sites and believe that, with minor investment, they can now be reopened on a contingency basis without carrying out a full refurbishment. These costs are anticipated to be around £132,000 by the time they have reopened. From the end of March to date, around £12,000 has been spent on Chelmsford, and around £107,000 has been spent on Hull.

The indicative additional staffing requirement to reactivate the places at Hull is around 65 members of staff—of which approximately 40 are uniformed. The indicative additional staffing requirement to reactivate the places at Chelmsford is around 30 members of staff—of which approximately 20 are uniformed grades. This means we are able to create additional places at an average cost of £7,000 per place (subject to final benchmarking review), as opposed to the average cost of a prison per place of £26,139.

The staffing requirement will initially be met by short term detached duty from other prisons, before looking to redeploy staff permanently where surpluses exist—and if necessary through external recruitment.

Subject to certification, Hull will create 282 places and Chelmsford 148 places, with prisoners due to start arriving this summer.

The reactivation of these places is a prudent and good value for money response to an increased prison population. Under the previous administration, police and court cells were turned into temporary prisons, with over 50,000 prisoners held in these cells in 2007-08 alone.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much in total his Department expects to have spent on mothballing the closed wings at HM Prison Hull and HM Prison Chelmsford by the time they re-open. [197903]

Jeremy Wright: We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts and continue to modernise the prison estate so that it delivers best value for the taxpayer.

This Government has a long term strategy for managing the prison estate. We will have increased the adult male prison capacity so that we have more places than we inherited from the previous Government.

The retention of significant spare prison capacity over and above what is required is expensive and cannot be justified given the current financial climate. The mothballing of spare capacity at HM Prisons Chelmsford and Hull saved the taxpayer £3.6 million in the financial year 2013-14. This compares to the significantly lower cost of maintaining this accommodation on a mothballed basis, so that it could be reactivated if necessary.

We have reviewed the refurbishment requirements at both sites and believe that, with minor investment, they can now be reopened on a contingency basis without carrying out a full refurbishment. These costs are anticipated to be around £132,000 by the time they have reopened. From the end of March to date, around £12,000 has been spent on Chelmsford, and around £107,000 has been spent on Hull.

Subject to certification, Hull will create 282 places and Chelmsford 148 places, with prisoners due to start arriving this summer.

The reactivation of these places is a prudent and good value for money response to an increased prison population. Under the previous administration, police and court cells were turned into temporary prisons, with over 50,000 prisoners held in these cells in 2007-08 alone.