Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Search for jail site begins again

former Ferodo site
The Ferodo site near Caernarfon was withdrawn as a possible prison location

A fresh search for a site to build a prison in north Wales is to begin again just a month after plans for a jail in Caernarfon, Gwynedd were withdrawn.

In September, a former car components plant, originally chosen for development of a jail, was deemed "not suitable" by the UK government.

Justice Minister Maria Eagle said sites in north Wales, London, the north west and West Yorkshire were being studied.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he welcomed the news.

Ms Eagle said the areas under consideration were where "the greater number of prisoners come from".

The announcement follows the decision last month to scrap controversial plans for a prison near Caernarfon.

Ms Eagle said there were potential issues with the site, at a former car components plant best known as Ferodo, and later as Dynamex.

She said it had been decided it was "not suitable for prison development".

Finding the most appropriate place for a new prison is of paramount importance
Justice Minister Maria Eagle

The proposal which would have created 700 jobs had drawn both support and opposition, and ministers said they would try to identify "any potential new sites in Wales".

So far, plans for two new 1,500 prison places in the UK have been announced - both of them in Essex.

Ms Eagle said the government has already created 25,000 additional prison places in the last 12 years.

She said the new prisons will "help protect the public and make communities safer by providing regimes to punish and reform offenders."

Consultation

"Finding the most appropriate place for a new prison is of paramount importance, " she added.

"They should be located in those areas where there is the greatest need, areas where the greater number of prisoners come from.

"This will allow us to keep prisoners closer to their home areas and will help ensure that important family and other links can be maintained, which help prisoner rehabilitation."

A shortlist of potential sites will be published after the search, and consultation with local MPs, local authorities and residents will then take place.

Mr Hain said: "I still want to see a prison in north Wales for all the reasons already identified.

"I would now like to see a very proactive stance from north Wales MPs working with the Wales Office and myself to bring forward preferred and suitable sites for a new prison in north Wales.

"We are on the case in the Wales Office, working in partnership with our colleagues at the Ministry of Justice to find a suitable site in north Wales.

"When I was in north Wales in September I was lobbied about potential prison sites in Anglesey and Wrexham. There is clearly interest out there."



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