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Thinktank moots 'Hub prison' proposals

A new report calls for 30 existing prisons to be replaced with up to 12 new ‘hub prisons’

Calling for ‘cutting edge architecture’ and ‘minimum design standards’ to be included at the pre-procurement stage, the document outlines plans for a ‘radical and ambitious transformation of the prison estate’.

The report by the right-leaning Policy Exchange outlines a plan to close more than 30 facilities and replace them with 10 to 12 new ‘Hub Prisons’. These ‘hub prisons’ would house up to 3,000 prisoners each.

Suggesting a budget of £120,000 per prison place, the construction costs of new build prisons would be high. The report’s suggested improvements to the prison estate could cost more than £3.75 billion. But it suggests, if adopted, these plans could deliver savings of more than £600 million a year.

HMP Brixton, HMP Feltham, HMP Holloway, HMP Pentonville, HMP Wandsworth and HMP Wormwood Scrubs in London have been recommended for closure, to be replaced by three new 2,500 place mega-jails.

The report suggests a vision of ‘modern prisons containing a range of flexible accommodation settings, with shared facilities located in a central hub’.

It states: ‘Prison design has moved on from the architectural norms established during the Victorian era. Today, prison design can be predicated on a more modern approach, with relatively small, self-contained, housing units and plenty of open spaces.’

In 2008, the Labour government proposed a programme to expand the capacity of the prison estate by building three 2,500 bed prisons. These controversial ‘Titan’ prison proposals were dropped in 2009, replaced with plans to build five 1,600 place prisons. So far just one of these prisons has been constructed; the £150 million HMP Oakwood near Birmingham, designed by Pick Everard and completed in 2012.

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