Controversial plans for a new 360 bed child prison have been halted as part of “additional budget savings”, the Ministry of Justice announced today.
The news follows the chancellor’s announcement that the Ministry of Justice must make savings of £325m to help tackle the £6bn deficit.
Crispin Blunt, prisons and probation minister said: “Meeting the demands of the prison capacity programme more efficiently allows us to play our part in contributing savings to reduce the budget deficit.
“The number of juveniles in custody is falling so it makes financial sense for us to boost the adult prison capacity by increasing the number of prison places available on existing sites – an alternative that provides substantially better value for the taxpayer.”
In a statement the MoJ confirmed that, “a cheaper, equivalent number of adult prison places will instead be provided on existing prison sites in a move that reflects the falling population of juveniles in custody.”
The announcement follows news that youth crime has fallen by 12% in the last year.
Plans for the prison, which was to be built on the site of Glen Parva young offender institution in Leicestershire, had attracted strong criticism from prison reformers.
Frances Crook, chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform, wrote to the Youth Justice Board earlier this year to urge the board to reconsider the plans, “given the current financial climate and the significant decrease in the juvenile prison population”.
Today, Crook welcomed the decision. She said: “Prison is no place for children and this was a mistaken plan that would have endanged children and the public.
“Given the current financial climate and welcome decrease in the number of children being sent to prison, it is ludicrous that the new titan prison for children was ever suggested.
“The deaths, violence and reoffending rates of children’s prisons are a national scandal and this new prison would have been an extremely costly addition to a failing system.”