Wales politics

New prison not needed in Wales, MPs are told

Artist impression of Wrexham super-prison Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption The planned new prison in Wrexham would simply replace another in England, it is claimed

Wales does not need a new prison, reformers have told MPs, calling for more use of community sentences.

Rachel Halford from the group Women in Prison told the Welsh Affairs Committee "if you build prisons, you fill them".

Meanwhile Robert Jones of Cardiff University told MPs the planned Wrexham "super prison" would simply replace another jail in northern England.

He said prisoners from north Wales would be nearer their families, but English inmates would be further away.

Conservative MP Guto Bebb, who sits on the committee, said he accepted that "perhaps we are guilty of sending too many people to prison, especially women".

However, he added: "Surely there's an argument for building a prison [in north Wales] so that you don't dislocate people from their families to the extent that is currently the case?"

'Opportunity'

In 2013 Justice Minister Chris Grayling said four prisons in England would close as he announced the go-ahead for the 2,000-inmate jail in Wrexham.

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, called for more emphasis on community sentences in Wales in her evidence to the committee at the House of Commons on Tuesday.

"I think to invest in building a prison when there's an opportunity to do something that is proven to be more effective from the research evidence would be a great shame," she said.

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