Wales ‘being turned into a penal colony’ warns prison charity head

Picture by Kazan Vperemen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Wales is being turned into a “penal colony” and the “Botany Bay of the 21st century” according to the head of a penal reform charity.

Frances Cook, the CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform, was responding to plans to build a new, 1,600 capacity mega-prison near Port Talbot.

She noted that there was already a mega-prison in Wrexham, HMP Berwyn, and three others in Swansea, Usk and Cardiff.

“Wales is becoming the Botany Bay of 21st century,” she said. “England shoving its urban poor onto the hulks & shipping them off to Wales.

“Is England turning Wales into a new penal colony?”

She also rejected suggestions that the prison could create new jobs in Wales, warning that it would have low staffing and lead to job losses at prisons in Swansea and Cardiff.

The UK Government had already been accused of dumping England’s prison population on Wales after it was revealed that fewer than 10% of HMP Berwyn’s prisoners are from the north of Wales.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said that Berwyn was never built to cater for Welsh needs, but rather “built in response to the overcrowding crisis in English prisons”.

The Howard League is the oldest penal reform organisation in the world. The charity focuses on penal reform in Wales and England.

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