Ministers under fire after announcing ‘mega jail’ to be built in Yorkshire despite thousands of objections

‘Every government for the last 30 years has tried to build its way out of the prisons crisis. The solution is not more prisons, but fewer prisoners’

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 13 September 2019 15:54
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The government said the new 1,440-place category C resettlement prison will open in 2024 and stand alongside the existing maximum-security jail at Full Sutton in East Yorkshire
The government said the new 1,440-place category C resettlement prison will open in 2024 and stand alongside the existing maximum-security jail at Full Sutton in East Yorkshire

Ministers have come under fire after announcing that a “mega-jail” is to be built in Yorkshire despite concerns raised by police and thousands of objections from members of the public.

Plans for a new modern jail at Full Sutton, near York, were approved on Thursday, paving the way for the first of the 10,000 additional prison places promised by Boris Johnson last month.

The government said the new 1,440-place category C resettlement prison will open in 2024 and stand alongside the existing maximum-security jail at the east Yorkshire site.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee approved the plans on Thursday evening by a majority vote of eight to four. More than 2,700 objections to the scheme were received.

Campaigners condemned the decision, saying the new facility would add to the strain on local services, and that expanding a prison system stricken with record levels of violence and despair was not the way to solve the prison crisis.

But prisons minister Lucy Frazer said it would create and support “hundreds of jobs” and be a “major boost to the local economy”.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a disappointing decision. There were thousands of objections, and the residents of Full Sutton will now have to live next to a huge prison that will create crime and add to the strain on local services.

“Expanding a prison system mired in record levels of violence and despair is not the answer.”

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Every government for the last 30 years has tried to build its way out of the prisons crisis. The solution is not more prisons, but fewer prisoners.”

Local police also raised some concerns about the plans when making their representations in relation to the now-approved planning application.

Superintendent Simon Gawthorpe said at the time that the extension to HMP Full Sutton would have the potential to increase demand on the force’s officers and the local service they provide, including a higher number of incidents in the prison and additional traffic around the jail.

But he said there were also reasons to “feel positively” about the prison extension because of the increase in local jobs.

When the plans were approved on Thursday he said the force would work closely with the Ministry of Justice and the local community to ensure that they maintain the “highest possible service” to the communities.

Announcing the plans, Ms Frazer said the new jail was “the first milestone” in the government’s long-term plan to deliver 10,000 additional modern and efficient prison places.

“It will create and support hundreds of jobs, during construction and afterwards, and will be a major boost to the local economy,” she added.

“The prison will also provide a better environment to steer offenders away from crime – ultimately keeping the public safer and reducing the number of future victims.”

It comes after Boris Johnson was last month accused of ignoring evidence on the causes of crime with a vow to create thousands more prison places and “properly punish” offenders.

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