North East Wales

Wrexham 'super-prison' phased opening call by MPs

Work is under way at Wrexham industrial estate
Image caption Work on the prison at Wrexham Industrial Estate started last September

A new super-prison in Wrexham should be opened in stages in order to avoid problems experienced by a similar facility in England, say MPs.

The Welsh Affairs Select Committee says lessons need to be learnt from HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton.

The privately-run jail has been troubled by prisoner unrest, including a 10-hour disturbance in January 2014.

The Prison Service will run Wrexham's £212m jail which will house 2,000 inmates, making it the UK's biggest.

In Friday's report, the MPs highlight problems at Oakwood, including the "overwhelming" use of new, inexperienced staff when the site opened in 2012.

Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption Wrexham's super-prison is due to open in 2017
Image copyright PA
Image caption HMP Oakwood is currently the UK's largest privately-run prison

Committee chairman David Davies said: "The new prison at Wrexham will go some way toward addressing the overcrowding of prisons in Wales, but it will not open until late 2017.

"A successful opening should not be put at risk by pressure to realise the new capacity too quickly.

"If we are to learn the lessons of the past, it must be opened slowly and steadily."

The report also found that Welsh prisons were "generally performing better than their counterparts in England", despite being more overcrowded.

It also calls for improved data collection on Welsh speakers in prisons.

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