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Prison Accommodation

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison places have been created in England and Wales in each year since 1990. (271679)

The table provides approximate information on the number of new prison places provided in England and Wales in each financial year from 1997-98 to 2008-09. In addition to the new places provided in the table, approximately 4,000 places have been provided by other means such as cell reclaims or doubling up.

Approximately 14,000 new prison places were provided between 1990-91 and 1996-97.

Financial year

New prison places provided1

1997-98

4,900

1998-99

1,200

1999-2000

1,600

2000-01

600

2001-02

900

2002-03

1,800

2003-04

1,300

2004-05

2,600

2005-06

1,100

2006-07

300

2007-08

2,300

2008-09

2,100

1 To nearest 100

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) which (a) active and (b) inactive military sites (i) he and (ii) representatives of his Department have (A) visited and (B) inspected in order to assess their suitability for use as prisons since 2005; and if he will publish a report of the findings of each visit or inspection; (276753)

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the conversion of RAF Coltishall into a category C prison, excluding the cost of the original acquisition of the land and site; what area the site covers; and how many places the prison is planned to provide.

In 2006, the Ministry of Defence provided a list of sites that were under disposal or planned for disposal shortly. Officials in the National Offender Management Service then undertook desktop exercises to refine the lists, and a number of sites were visited and assessed in further detail. A proposal to convert Connaught Barracks in Dover to a prison was considered, but it was decided not to proceed.

Following December 2007 Lord Carter’s report, “Securing the future: Proposals for the efficient and sustainable use of custody in England and Wales”, Ministers agreed to the acquisition of the former RAF Coltishall site in Norfolk and conversion to a prison.

The prison development at the former RAF Coltishall occupies around 31 acres of the 650 acre site and, once complete, will provide 523 places. The cost is estimated at around £68 million.