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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 10:05 GMT
Prison's 17m economy boost claim
Melanie and Lee Owen with their daughter Levi
Relatives have to travel long-distances to England for visits
A north Wales prison would create 1,000 jobs and bring 17m investment into the area, research for the North Wales Criminal Justice Board has found.

It says around 700 people from across the region are currently serving their sentences in jails in England.

The board, along with other agencies, local authorities, politicians and families of offenders, are campaigning for a new one closer to home.

The UK Government is examining demand as part of an overall review.

The findings of the report by a lecturer from the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education in Wrexham, forecasts a new prison would bring "significant benefits".

I was angry and upset about it because I had to go short of money to go and see him
Melanie Owen

During the construction phase, 850 jobs would be created generating 11m into the local economy each year for three years.

Once up and running, the prison would employ 480 and support services and suppliers a further 560, the report claims, providing an annual 17m economy boost.

The research also forecasts that crime would be reduced in the prison's immediate vicinity - and that house prices would not be affected.

One mother from Caernarfon blames the stress of travelling the 80-mile journey to Liverpool to visit her partner on a miscarriage.

Melanie Owen, whose partner Lee was released three years ago, said it cost her 22 each week to make the journey to Altcourse Prison in Liverpool, out of her 82 income.

She said: "I was angry and upset about it because I had to go short of money to go and see him.

"But it was important for me and it was important for Lee that I went as often as I could."

Swansea Prison
There are five prisons in Wales, but all are in the south

In June, the Welsh affairs committee proposed that a new jail for up to 500 inmates should be built in north Wales, helping to ease overcrowding in prisons in England and allowing inmates to serve their sentences close to home.

The Criminal Justice Board, which has asked for views from local authorities on potential sites, is holding a conference in Llandudno on Wednesday to discuss the report's findings.

Chair Clare Pillman said: "A much-needed prison would be brilliant economic news for North Wales and would provide a very welcome boost for employment prospects.

"We believe there is a compelling case now in favour of having a prison on north Wales."

Senior judge, Mr Justice Roderick Evans, said the fact there was no women's jail in Wales was a "disgrace".

He said: "We need a multi-purpose prison for men and women and young people.

"I could understand people's fears if you were talking about sex offenders and lifers going to an open prison - that's not what we need.

"What we need is a closed prison like the ones we have in Cardiff and Swansea."

Campaigners argue a north Wales prison could benefit communities and aid the rehabilitation of offenders.

Council adds to calls for prison
30 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
'No spare places' in Welsh jails
20 Oct 05 |  South West Wales
Private prison's expansion plan
02 May 07 |  South East Wales

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