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Government rips up plans to sell off Victorian prisons for homes

Words: Huw Morris
Prison guard / iStock-108224617

The government has backtracked on proposals to close Victorian-era prisons and sell the sites for housing.

The ‘new for old’ jails programme was unveiled in 2015 by then justice secretary Michael Gove to shut “the most dilapidated” prisons and build about 3,000 city centre homes.

This was suspended in 2017 after a sudden jump in the prison population, with the plans revised in November 2018 when the government pledged to close “old, expensive and unsuitable accommodation”.

Prisons minister Lucy Fraser has now acknowledged that the jails are still needed to house increasing numbers of offenders,

Victorian jails that are likely to stay open for the foreseeable future include Dartmoor, and HMP Leicester as well as London’s Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs.

The weekly prison population in the UK is estimated at around 92,500. England and Wales, where the figure hovers around 83,500, house the largest prison population in Western Europe.

Since becoming prime minister, Boris Johnson has promised to provide an extra 10,000 prison places.

Image credit | iStock