Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 08:46 UK

New prison to house sex offenders

Prison fence

Parish Council chairman Glyn Williams has criticised the plan

A new prison planned on the site of a former RAF base in Norfolk will house only Category C sex offenders, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

The new prison at Coltishall will be made up of converted RAF buildings and some new buildings, all surrounded by a 17ft (5.2m) high security fence.

It will eventually house 500 prisoners, with the first phase opening in November and the second in March 2010.

The plans were approved by North Norfolk District Council in January.

The prison will be about five miles (8km) from the village of Coltishall, which has a population of 1,500 people.

Phil Wheatley, head of the National Offender Management scheme, said the new prison would improve access both regionally and nationally to sex offender treatment programmes.

Phil Wheatley

Mr Wheatley says sex offenders are the same as every other prisoner

He said: "I recognise that this may be of concern to local people initially.

"However, I can reassure them it will meet specific and detailed standards of security and have an enhanced security perimeter.

"It will not hold any prisoners of a higher category than C which means those who pose a greater risk to the public will not be held here."

The prison will be one of three dedicated sex offender complexes in the country.

A Category C sex offender is deemed to be the lowest risk to the public.

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