Background to the inquiry
Currently, there are five prisons in Wales: HMP Berwyn, HMP Cardiff, HMP Parc, HMP Swansea, and HMP Usk/Prescoed. Of the five prisons in Wales, all facilities are for male prisoners. There are currently no facilities in Wales for housing female or high risk prisoners.
Four of the five prisons in Wales are considered overcrowded by the Prison Service. One result of this overcrowding has been people being imprisoned a long distance from their family, and in some cases, across the border. Many of the women prisoners from Wales are imprisoned at HMP Eastwood, Gloucestershire or HMP Foston Hall, Derbyshire. Young Offenders from North Wales often serve their sentences in the North West of England. It has been argued that locating people closer to their communities is more cost-effective for the taxpayer and makes reoffending less likely.
Since the Committee's last inquiry into prisons in 2015, a new facility, HMP Berwyn has opened outside Wrexham. It can house 2,106 male prisoners and at an annual cost of £14,000 per inmate is the cheapest to run in the UK. It also provides in-room technology for each inmate to providing Welsh language facilities. However, concerns have been raised about the number of prisoners from North Wales still being imprisoned in England rather than Berwyn. The Ministry of Justice has plans to open a similar facility outside Port Talbot.
Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair David TC Davies commented:
"New facilities have been built in Wales, and more are planned in the future. But serious questions remain over how well the Welsh prison system is serving those sent there to be rehabilitated. Evidence suggests that the best outcomes are achieved when prisoners are housed nearer their communities. Yet, Welsh offenders are often sent to English prisons.
This inquiry will investigate the quality of prison provision for amongst others women prisoners, young offenders and Welsh speakers. It will ask what more the Ministry of Justice can do to ensure that prisoners are in an environment that gives them the best chance of reform."
Send a written submission
The inquiry seeks to address the following points:
- Provision for women prisoners and young offenders in Wales
- Welsh language provision in prisons
- Cross border issues, including the placement of prisoners from Wales in English prisons
- The potential for new prisons in Wales
Interested parties are requested to keep to a word limit of 3,000 words and to focus on key areas that the Committee should investigate during its inquiry.
The deadline for written submissions will be Monday 19 February. Written evidence should be submitted via the written submission form.
The Committee expects to begin the public evidence sessions for this inquiry in February.