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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Put us in the frame for a new prison, say council chiefs

Council leaders from the region led a delegation to meet Prisons Minister, Jeremy Wright MP, aimed at keeping North Wales on the map for a new prison.

The delegation was made up of Councillor Hugh Evans (Denbighshire), Councillor Dyfed Edwards (Gwynedd) and Neil Rogers (Wrexham) along with representatives of North Wales Police and the Wales Probation Trust.

The meeting was arranged by David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales, and Stephen Crabb MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales took the delegation to meet the Prisons Minister.

Hugh Evans said later: "We had a good meeting with Jeremy Wright and he listened to our call for a prison in North Wales. We told him we were open for business and that we would welcome the jobs and regeneration opportunities a prison would bring North Wales.

“A prison in North Wales will reduce the costs of public services and families supporting offenders and improve the rate of rehabilitation of offenders.

“The Minister told us that the Ministry of Justice is negotiating with the Treasury for monies to replace prisons in order to bring the cost of the prison estate down.”

Dyfed Edwards said: “North Wales is the only region in the UK without a prison. Many prisoners from North Wales are imprisoned too far from their families and in an environment where their Welsh culture is not available to them. This increases the risks of re-offending on release and self-harm in custody, particularly for young people.

“We have learnt from the bitter experience of the prison 'pulled' from Caernarfon. We told the Minister we will be flexible. We will meet the selection criteria of the Ministry of Justice for sites and will accommodate prisoners from England in a North Wales prison to do so.

“We demonstrated to the Prisons Minister that local authorities, the police and probation services have developed a strong partnership. We want a prison and we also want to develop innovative schemes that will see more offenders serving their sentences in the community. Dealing with low risk offenders locally will reduce costs to the public purse and maintain contact with professional and family support.”

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