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HMP Kennet: Government to close overcrowded prison

HMP Kennet Image copyright Anthony Parkes/Geograph
Image caption The jail is in a converted hospital

One of England's most overcrowded jails, which is in Merseyside, is to close next year.

Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove said HMP Kennet, near Maghull, will shut in July 2017.

A Merseyside MP has claimed the government sneaked in the closure of the Category C jail just before the parliament recess.

Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central, tweeted there was "no chance for scrutiny" of the closure.

Mr Gove said closing the prison, which can hold a maximum of 342 inmates, would allow the Government to open new prisons with more focus on education and work.

In a written ministerial statement, he said: "The National Offender Management Service will not be renewing the lease with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust for the site at HMP Kennet. The prison will therefore close by July 2017."

Despite praising the "excellent work" of the staff, he said the prison did "not provide an ideal environment for the rehabilitation of the men it holds".

"Its design and layout make it difficult to operate, it has the highest levels of crowding in the estate and is one of the most expensive category C prisons in the country," he added.

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