The prison campaign continues

It was announced today that four prisons across the country are to close in alignment with the building of a new super-prison in Wales. The 2,000 capacity prison to be built in the Wrexham area is the first part of a massive revamp of HM Prison Service; officials are also looking at many other sites, of which the Beam Park site in Dagenham and Rainham has still not been ruled out.

Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham who has been running a ‘SAY NO’ campaign since April this year said: “I have been in talks with Boris Johnson, Sir Edward Lister from the GLA and the Ministry of Justice for many months now, raising the concerns of residents and bringing all the facts together. Much progress has been made and things are beginning to look like they might go our way, but the fight is still ongoing.

“The recent announcement highlights that there are other sites across the capital that could also accommodate a large scale prison facility, and I will be keeping the pressure up to make sure that all of the prospective sites are considered equally.

“The sheer amount of support and activity surrounding the campaign is fantastic and I urge everyone to keep fighting, many residents are out campaigning on their streets, encouraging anyone who hasn’t signed a petition to sign one. I will make sure that this isn’t just pushed in through the back door; that peoples voices are heard and that we create enough resistance to dissuade the Ministry of Justice, and Boris from putting a much opposed prison on our doorstep.”

Wednesday’s announcement indicated that one of the possibilities being considered was to close the Feltham Young Offender Institution in west London and to replace it with a super-prison, including a new youth facility. Earlier in the year it was disclosed that there were various sites across London that were being considered for a super-prison such as right here between the borders of Barking and Dagenham and Havering. At the time issues were raised by the Prison Officers Association about the practicalities of managing a large scale prison, and its effect on local economies.

A representative from the Prison Governors Association in a quote to the BBC earlier this year stated that they were “absolutely opposed” to the idea of super-prisons in the UK, explaining that the impact on local communities would be huge and would essentially dictate the local economy. This is why Jon Cruddas is arguing that it is important to include the local community in the consultation process, in line with this Jon is holding a two consecutive public meetings on Thursday 5th September at the Dagenham Village Community Hall, Vicarage Road to listen to people’s concerns and outline the next steps of the campaign.