Jenny Chapman MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister, commenting on today’s announcement of the closure of Wellingborough Prison, said:
“By closing Wellingborough Prison, the Tory-led Government is yet again showing its incompetence in managing our prison estate. Their complacency in boasting about how much slack there is in the system to cope with future demands ignores how prison numbers on their watch have risen by 1,580 in
two years – when they targeted a reduction of 3,000. And that’s before the impact of any unexpected events – such as last summer’s disturbances – are taken into consideration.
“Recent new prisons coming on stream represent the last of Labour’sinvestment in our prison estate. It was foolish to say the least of this Government to cancel all new prison building at a stroke. Prisons take many years from inception, through planning, and actual construction. It’s not a case of turning off the taps and then turning them on again, expecting instant new prisons coming into operation. By being so short-sighted, this Government is storing up major problems down the line for our prison system.
“By their own predictions, the Ministry of Justice see prison numbers rising towards 95,000. There’ll be no alternative to squeezing more and more prisoners into less and less space. We’re worried about the impact this will have on the safety of those working in our prisons, and the ability of the system to successfully punish and reform offenders. It’s rather puzzling how the Government can square off their policy of squashing more and more prisoners into less and less space with their boasts about a rehabilitation revolution. It’s difficult not to conclude it’s simply more about words than actions.”