The Secretary of State for Justice has told local MP Ian Lucas ‘no decision’ has been taken if the Wrexham Prison will be run by a private company.
The answer came during oral questions in Parliment with the focus being on a recent less than impressive report on HMP Oakwood. The report mentioned amongst other things that drugs are ‘easily available’, alchol being brewed and references to it being called ‘Jokewood’. The Secretary of State for Justice said earlier this year Oakwood was a “very good model for prison development”.
Mr Lucas asked “This morning Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons issued a report expressing concern about Oakwood prison in Staffordshire, which is the most recent prison to be built. What assurances can the Secretary of State give that the Wrexham prison to which he has referred will not have similar difficulties when the Government undertake its building?”
MP Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, replied saying “Prison professionals all say that the early days of a new prison are difficult. Clearly there is still work to be done at Oakwood and that is a priority for us. The Honourable Gentleman will be aware, however, that some of the criticisms of Oakwood refer to the fact that it is a privately run prison.”
“I have taken no decision about the status of the prison in Wrexham, but I remind the Honourable Gentleman that it was the Labour party that took the decision to privatise Oakwood.”
We noticed that Larry O’Callaghan, Group Secretary of the PCS Union for the National Offender Management Service tweeted on Monday saying he had met with the Wrexham Council Leader who had indicated his preference:
Good meeting with Neil Rogers Wrexham Council Leader; expressed his preference that new prison in Wrexham be public sector. Welcome support.
— Larry O’Callaghan (@PCS_Larry) October 7, 2013
There are currently 14 private prisons in England and Wales, all managed by one of three firms – G4S, Serco and Sodexo Justice Services (formerly Kalyx).
The formal planning application was made for the prison earlier this month, and you can read a blow by blow document break down in our report here.
We were first to break the news of the new prison being ‘awarded’ to Wrexham, you can read our report here which includes video of the Council’s press conference.
There is an ongoing 13 page debate on the Wrexham.com Forums about the prison which you can read and take part in by clicking here.