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Data shows significant surplus prison places in Wales for Welsh prisoners

22 March 2017

Law and Order

New data released today by the Wales Governance Centre shows that opening a new ‘super’ prison in Port Talbot will lead to Wales having a surplus of prison places.

These new figures published today follow the announcement of plans to build a new Category C prison in Port Talbot for up to 1,600 prisoners, as reported by BBC Wales News online.

Our analysis show that based on the current use of Welsh prisons against the total number of Welsh prisoners currently in the prison system, Wales will have a surplus of almost 2,400 places (2,387) once the Port Talbot prison is fully operational.

The data shows that even if HMP Cardiff closed as a result of the UK Government’s announcement, Wales would still have a prison place surplus of over 1,600 places based on the current use of the prison estate in Wales against the total number of Welsh prisoners.

This data follows comments made by the Welsh Government with regards to youth offending, noting that "we shouldn’t be incarcerating our young people; we should be supporting them". These comments were made in a response to a question to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in December 2016.

Dr Robert Jones, researcher at the Wales Governance Centre, said,

"It is clear from the data being presented here that the UK Government’s decision to locate a ‘super’ prison in Port Talbot will lead to a considerable surplus of prison places in Wales, which means that Wales will become a major importer of prisoners.

"Even taking into account the possible closure of HMP Cardiff, a surplus of some 1600 prison places will remain. Therefore, the question should be asked, why do we need to build another super prison in Wales?

"Before any planning permission is granted for the new ‘super’ prison in Port Talbot, we need to ensure a full and frank public discussion is held over the potential impacts of building such a large facility. This would include questions surrounding the potential impact that another ‘super’ prison in Wales will have on existing devolved services including prisoner healthcare and education as well as substance misuse support and housing.

"At a time when discussions are being held over the future devolution of criminal justice powers to Wales, politicians will need to consider what impact a new ‘super’ prison in Wales is likely to have upon this agenda in future".

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