The biggest prison in the UK should reach full capacity pretty soon, with construction work on track to end this month and allow the opening of the third and final wing. The first prisoners were moved to HMP Berwyn in Wrexham on 28 February and into Bala wing, with this wing and its cousins collectively designed to house 702 prisoners.
The second wing, designated Alwen, opened in May, with Ministry of Justice (MoJ) bosses confirming the third and final wing, Ceiriog, is on schedule to open this month, bringing the total capacity of adult male offenders to 2,106 – 500 inmates more than the biggest current prison in England and Wales was built to hold.
The majority will be Category C prisoners, meaning that they’ve been assessed as having a lower likelihood of escaping, though some Category B prisoners could also be accommodated.
Governor Russ Trent has explained that his emphasis is on rehabilitation, with staff calling the prisoners ‘men’ who will have ‘rooms’ rather than cells.
The construction of HMP Berwyn began in May 2015 and will cost £250 million.
Reductions in overcrowding
The Government has pledged to spend £1.3 billion on new prisons. After the riots in HMP Birmingham last year, Justice Secretary Liz Truss said the new prison in Wales ‘will help to reduce overcrowding across the estate’. Nine more new prisons are expected to be built, with five set to be opened by 2020.
Binns Fencing won the order to supply and install almost 2 km of 5.2 metre-high prison-standard secure perimeter fencing for the Wrexham ‘super prison’. Manufacturer Zaun supplied the MoJ-approved prison posts and fencing mesh.
Binns has proposed a new model of perimeter security and PIDs procurement and delivery, whereby it offers a single point of contact for the complete perimeter security package, providing greater opportunity for innovation, in turn reducing complexity and the need for managing multiple contractors.
The company believes this could offer significant cost savings on PIDs cable installation as well as both contract and project management costs.
HMP Berwyn is already anticipated to be the cheapest prison to run per prisoner in England and Wales.. It’s expected to run at £14,000 per head per year, including overheads, compared with £40,170 at HMP Parc in Bridgend, which was built under the Government’s Private Finance Initiative and is operated by G4S.