The public should know where new prisons are to be built

by Dr David Scott

The general public should know as soon as possible where the planned new prisons in England and Wales are going to be built. On the 7th March an appeal failed challenging the non-disclosure in a recent Freedom of Information [FOI] request, of a number of councils currently in talks with the Ministry of Justice [MoJ] to build a new prison. The appeal supported the original decision that under the public interest test it was important to withhold some of the councils who submitted plans so that there could be “a ‘safe space’ in which the early stages of discussions of this nature can be carried out between the Council and government officials”. If we are going to discover the location of the new prisons then alternative ways of finding out information need to be explored. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Comment and Resources, No More Prison

Where are the new ‘Mega Prisons’ going to be built?

STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Where are the new ‘Mega Prisons’ going to be built?

Data released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed possible locations for new prisons. The information was made public following a request from Dr David Scott on behalf of campaign groups Reclaim Justice Network and Manchester No Prisons.

This new data provides a list of Local Authorities in England and Wales that submitted plans to the MoJ in 2016 regarding suitable land for building a new prison in their area and gives an indication of where new prisons may be built. The list, however, is incomplete and campaigners are critical about the secrecy surrounding the government’s £1.3bn prison building programme.

20 of the Local Authorities that submitted plans to the Ministry of Justice in 2016 regarding suitable land for building a new prison in their area have been revealed:

1. Bassetlaw District Council
2. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
3. Braintree District Council
4. Cheshire West and Chester
5. Corby Borough Council
6. Derbyshire County Council
7. Derbyshire Dales District Council
8. East Riding of Yorkshire Council
9. Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
10. Kent County Council
11. Lancaster City Council
12. Northamptonshire County Council
13. Rhonda, Cynon, Taff County Borough Council
14. Rossendale Borough Council
15. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
16. Stafford Borough Council
17. Swale Borough Council
18. Tendring District Council
19. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
20. Wellingborough Borough Council

Dr David Scott of The Open University speaking on behalf of Reclaim Justice Network and Manchester No Prisons, said:

Although this is only a partial list of the submissions, it is significant that the 20 Local Authorities are concentrated in certain regions. The South East of England, East Yorkshire and the North West of England are all well represented. Alongside this, there is also a strong correlation between the disclosed list of applications and Ministry of Justice records on the most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales.

“Whilst there are other Local Authorities that have submitted plans (and presumably these are the councils most likely involved in discussions with government), if we read between the lines we can perhaps assume that the next three proposed mega prisons – each housing up to around 2,000 prisoners – will be located in regions that correspond with the highest prison crowding rates in England and Wales.

“Given the historic failings of the prison to meet its rehabilitation goals and the current tightening of government budgets, when it comes to dealing with overcrowded prisons the most sensible and rational approach is to reduce the prison population. We should not be spending taxpayers’ money on new super-sized prisons but rather reinvest the proposed money to help ordinary people in the community and ensure that all people have access to decent health care, welfare provision and education.”

Pressure is mounting for the government to halt the £1.3bn prison building programme. Organisations, including Reclaim Justice Network, INQUEST, Smash IPP, British Society of Criminology and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies are calling for a moratorium on prison building.

Contact:

Dr David Scott works at the Open University. He has been researching prisons for more than 20 years and has published 8 books on prisons and punishment. Contact: 07838245382

Reclaim Justice Network is a collaboration of individuals, groups, campaigners, activists, trade unionists, practitioners and researchers and people most directly affected by criminal justice systems, who are working together to radically reduce the size and scope of criminal justice systems and to build effective and socially just alternatives. Contact:
07818414717

No Prisons Manchester is an organisation fighting against a proposed mega-prison in Manchester and the expansion of the Prison-Industrial Complex generally.

Notes:

(1) The full information request and response can be viewed here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/local_authorities_that_submitted

(2) The recent disclosure of 20 Local Authorities who have submitted proposals was released in line with Regulation 2(1) (a) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

(3) Writing on behalf of the MoJ , Miranda Wilkinson maintained that although it is important to promote the transparency of public affairs and demonstrate that local authorities are acting in the interests of the taxpayer, under the public interest test it was considered important to withhold some of the councils who submitted plans so that there could be “a ‘safe space’ in which the early stages of discussions of this nature can be carried out between the Council and government officials without the inhibiting threat of premature publicity”.

“Premature disclosure that the Council(s) in question have been in correspondence with the MoJ, about something as potentially emotive as the location of a new prison, would likely result in prolonged diversion of resource from service delivery to handling enquiries from the media and concerned stakeholders, who may wrongly conclude that our assessment of potentially suitable sites is more detailed or advanced than is the case.”

Other negatives of announcing the possible locations of the new prisons were highlighted when explaining non-disclosure. “Potential investment in their areas may be delayed or abandoned if it was wrongly felt likely that a prison in their area is certain or imminent. This has commercial implications for other organisations concerned, their communities and the Council itself.”

ENDS

Posted in No More Prison, Press releases

Stop building prisons!

The Ministry of Justice has submitted planning applications for the construction of TWO new 1,600 place prisons at HMPs Wellingborough and Glen Parva.

You do not need to be a local resident to register your objections. Just click on each of the links below and press the ‘make comment’ button. It is very simple – and should take just few minutes to complete. Continue reading

Posted in No More Prison

RJN News: January 2017

Campaign updates
Reclaim Holloway
Following the closure of HMP Holloway, Reclaim Justice Network are now working closely with the Reclaim Holloway coalition to build a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community.
  • Reclaim Justice Network is sponsoring an upcoming demo on the 18th February to call on the Ministry of Justice to loan the visitors’ centre at HMP Holloway to a partnership of local community groups, so that it can be run by them in the interests of the community.
  • Want more updates? You can follow the emerging community plan for Holloway via #plan4holloway
  • Reclaim Holloway coalition continues to meet every Wednesday at the Hilldrop Community Centre in Islington, and can be contacted here.
New Prison Builds
The government has announced a ‘prison building revolution’, committing to the construction of 9 new prisons across England and Wales. Reclaim Justice Network opposes these plans.
News
Events
If you want to receive more regular updates from Reclaim Justice Network, please follow our Twitter and Facebook pages.
In solidarity.
Posted in Newsletters

Pressure mounts for immediate halt to prison building

The Guardian has today published a letter from the Reclaim Justice Network calling for an immediate halt to the government’s prison building programme. The statement, organised by the Network, has amassed more than fifty signatories from service delivery organisations, professionals, activists and academics. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Comment and Resources, No More Prison | 1 Comment

RJN News: December 2016

Campaign updates
Prison Profiteers Demo
On 15th November, Reclaim Justice Network and others protested outside the European Custody and Detention Summit, a trade fair for security companies, prison builders, and other profiteers to present new technologies that expand and privatise the criminal justice system.
Reclaim Holloway
Following the closure of HMP Holloway, Reclaim Justice Network are now working closely with the Reclaim Holloway coalition to build a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community.
No More Prison
The government has announced a ‘prison building revolution’, committing to the construction of 9 new prisons across England and Wales. Reclaim Justice Network opposes these plans, and has previously called for a moratorium on new prisons.
News
  • London Campaign Against Police and State Violence are seeking advice, contacts and volunteers for their Sean Rigg Community Justice project, which supports victims of racist, violent and rude policing through the police complaints process. If you’re interested in getting involved or accessing the service, contact the project on slondon.surgery@gmail.com
  • Empty Cages Collective have published a response to the Government’s latest white paper on Prison Safety and Reform, calling for all involved in anti-prison struggles to resist repressive developments.
  • Our friends at JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) are crowdfunding for a new film, Killing the Law, which documents their stories of injustice and the campaign against the joint enterprise over the last 5 years.
  • A man who had lived in the UK for 27 years has died at Morton Hall detention centre. Other detainees at Morton Hall are speaking out via the Detained Voices blog.
  • As well as their Prisons in the Press bulletin, Prison Watch UK have also begun posting an Immigration Dispatch newsletter. You can read their latest round-up here.
Events
  • JENGbA are hosting a candlelight vigil for all those wrongly convicted under joint enterprise outside the Supreme Court in London, and Liverpool Lime Street station on 13th December.
If you want to receive more regular updates from the Network, please follow our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Thank you for your ongoing support – see you in 2017!
Posted in Newsletters

The pains of imprisonment

Dr David Scott writes about how the inherent harms of imprisonment generate prisoner deaths. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Comment and Resources, No More Prison | 1 Comment

Controversial prison industry summit held at Tower of London targeted by protesters

  • G4S among the security firms and other companies profiting from the detention system who will be gathering at £1500 per head event
  • Tower of London trustees asked to cancel event warned of ‘reputational risk’

Continue reading

Posted in G4S, Immigration detention, Prison Profiteers

Profit from pain is inhumane! Demo Tuesday 15 Nov, 7.45 am & 4.40 pm

stopthesummit

For full details and updates visit the event Facebook page.

Posted in Events and Meetings, G4S | Leave a comment

Holloway prison is closed – what will we build in its place? SAT 12 NOV 2016

Join us at 5pm on Saturday 12 November at Holloway prison for a FLASH DEMO.

Local people, campaigners and ex-prisoners are coming together to fight for the Holloway site to be used for the collective good, local need and the needs of women formerly incarcerated there.

Continue reading

Posted in Events and Meetings, Reclaim Holloway | 1 Comment