Charities bid to run two new prisons

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The Independent Online

Charity groups have launched rival bids to help run two new jails being built to hold Britain's rapidly- growing prison population.

They have linked up with the private sector to try to win government contracts to build and manage prisons at Belmarsh West in south-east London, and Maghull on Merseyside.

Although a range of charities already work with thousands of offenders, it would be the first time that the voluntary sector has been formally involved in the management of a prison. Jails currently hold 83,445 inmates – an increase of 1,265 in just six months. The Government plans to boost capacity to 96,000 by 2014.

One consortium brings together Nacro, a crime reduction charity, and RAPt, a drug rehabilitation charity, with the private security firm G4S and the builders Galliford Try. Another comprises Turning Point, the social care charity, Rainer Crime Concern, the crime reduction charity, and the security firm Serco Group. The charities argue that their full involvement will help to cut reoffending.

Applications to run the new prisons, which would each hold 600 inmates, will close next month, with the winners announced next year. The prisons are due to open by 2010.

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