Strange ways of thinking

The news that all six Councils in north Wales are in favour of the government building a 1,500 place prison in north Wales amazes me.

     Welsh councils campaign for new prison in North Wales
     Cynghorau'r gogledd o blaid carchar yn yr ardal

As there are only somewhere around 700 men from north Wales in prison, it means that the majority of the future inmates of a 1,500 place prison will be from England. So if the prison is built anywhere in north west Wales, it will mean those English prisoners being as far away from their families and the facilities that will be required to reintegrate them back into society as prisoners from north Wales are now. Of course it is nothing short of scandalous that prisoners from north west Wales are accommodated so far away at present, but why swap one scandal for an equal and opposite scandal?

So the only viable location for a large prison in north Wales would be in north east Wales, close to the English border. Therefore I have to question the sanity of Gwynedd, Ynys Môn and Conwy Councils. Why are they supporting this joint bid when it is almost certain that any prison that is built would be in Wrecsam, Sir y Fflint or Sir Dinbych? No wonder Aled Roberts of Wrecsam is all in favour. And is a prison in north east Wales really going to solve the problem of distance for those in north West Wales?


Of course there is one reason why the Councils are falling over themselves to get it. Jobs. I know I won't be popular for saying this, but some jobs come at too high a price. If this Labour government had stuck to their original plans, we would now be building a 600-or-so place prison just outside Caernarfon. That would have been a good solution: it would still bring jobs to the area as well as serving the interests of reducing reoffending.

The main reason why the Caernarfon site suddenly became unsuitable was that it was only big enough for a medium size prison, but the Labour Government in Westminster changed their mind and wanted fewer, bigger prisons instead. Even if there were problems of ground contamination at the Friction Dynamex site that would be expensive to remediate, it should be easy enough to find another site in north west Wales for a 600-or-so place prison ... anywhere along the A55 corridor would be fine, but the closer to Caernarfon the better, because that's where we've just spent millions on a brand new Criminal Justice Centre.

Do the Councils of north west Wales not realize that if a large prison is built in north east Wales, it reduces the chances of getting a prison in north west Wales at any time in the future to precisely zero? For why would anyone build a smaller prison in north west Wales if north Wales already has a prison that is more than twice as big as we need?

It is surely better to let this 1,500 place prison be built somewhere in England, and wait for a government that is prepared to build a prison that suits the needs of north Wales, rather than one that will primarily serve the needs of England.

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