Plans for the super-prison under construction in North Wales should be adapted to include wings for women and young offenders, according to Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts.
The £212m Wrexham prison will hold 2,106 inmates and be the biggest in the UK, and the Plaid Cymru MP argues Wales now has an opportunity to ensure that young and female prisoners can be kept closer to their families.
She said: “Provision for women who commit crimes in Wales needs to be overhauled to become fit for the 21st century. We still do not have a women’s prison in Wales, nor for that matter do we have a prison for high-risk offenders, whilst young offenders from the north are shunted across the border because of a lack of a suitable facility.
“Given that the UK Government has seemingly made its decision on the Wrexham super-prison, I do believe the Government could change its plans so that the prison better meets the needs of the people of Wales.”
She added: “The demand for prison places in the north of Wales is around 700, not 2000. It would surely make sense therefore to make the best use of the new prison with a conventional prison housing 700 prisoners, and separate wings for women, young offenders and high risk inmates.”
Ms Roberts argues female offenders often need “different solutions”, saying: “Only too often they are themselves the victims of the toxic trio of domestic abuse, mental health problems and substance misuse. Female criminals need different solutions to break the patterns of criminal behaviour.”
Urging the UK Government to adapt the plans for the prison, she said this is about “ensuring women do not have to cross the border into England, away from their families and loved ones.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “The first prison in north Wales will give offenders the opportunity to be held closer to home, which will allow better support for their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community on release. This will help to cut reoffending, leading to less crime and safer streets.
“Women and young offenders from Wales will continue to be held in the most appropriate locations. We want to ensure women prisoners serve their sentences in more humane surroundings, better designed to maintain strong family ties and keep them out of crime.”