Oppose plans to build a mega-prison in Buckinghamshire!

The government has identified a possible location for the development of a mega prison and they want to find out how much resistance they may meet in developing a prison in this location. 

In the introduction, they note that, “no final decision has been taken on whether to formally progress these proposals” – this early stage is a great time to demonstrate that NO prisons are wanted in Buckinghamshire or ANYWHERE else. 

but we only have until 29th January to get our objections in!

How to Object:

Link to Consultation is HERE: 

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/potential-new-prison-in-buckinghamshire/consultation/intro/

You are not required to give your name, where you live or any other personal information to submit your views. 

It takes only a few minutes to object. You can also send questions/objections directly to: PSDenquries@justice.gov.uk

Let’s flood them with objections! 

More information on the project here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/potential-new-prison-in-buckinghamshire/supporting_documents/mojnewprisonsprogrammeandbuckinghamshireweb.pdf

Objections you may want to include:

Everyone will have different reasons for why they are concerned about having a new prison in their local area. For people that do not live locally, they may feel concerned about the harm the prison system causes and not want any more to be built anywhere.

Click here to read about the ethical arguments against building a new prison.

Traffic & Environmental Objections

Currently, no planning application has been submitted to Buckinghamshire Council for this new mega-prison, making a lot of the information about the impact on traffic and the environment not yet clear. However, we do know that the prison will increase local traffic and have a negative environmental impact. 

The MOJ admits “once up and running, any new prison would result in a slight increase in traffic on local roads”. The phrase “slight increase” is purposefully vague. The fact of the matter is, traffic will increase with only a fraction of the promised economic benefits for the local community. 

In terms of a negative environmental impact, although the MOJ brags about trying to keep carbon emissions near zero, the truth is that mega-building construction pollutes. This project will destroy any natural habitats in the way of construction and its heavy machinery and industry will have negative environmental impacts. As the world approaches dangerous levels of 2 degrees of warming, any level of carbon emissions is dangerous. 

Impact on Local Services

New prisons cost hundreds of millions of pounds to build. HMP Five Wells has cost £253 million pounds. Although the proposed prison in Buckinghamshire aims to incarcerate 240 fewer people than HMP Five Wells, it will still lock up 1440 people. Estimated costs for the project will be very close to the same astronomical cost of constructing HMP Five Wells – a prison to incarcerate 1680 people is very similar to a prison to incarcerate 1440 people.

Instead of prison construction, these hundreds of millions of pounds would be much better spent on local services. This year, reports have shown that child poverty is on the rise in Buckinghamshire.  In response, Bucks County Council has said that safeguarding vulnerable community members is a key strategic aim. A few dozen jobs will not improve rates of child poverty. There needs to instead be more housing constructed to be at social rents, as well as more funding towards community services that support those who have been made vulnerable. 

The socio-economic impact assessment of the plan is completely inadequate. It does not assess or analyse the impact of the prison on local services including on mental health services, the NHS, local housing, social care and other welfare services.

Economic Impact

In its original planning process for HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough, the Ministry of Justice declared that constructing the mega-prison would create 3000 jobs. Construction is now well underway at the site, and so far only 144 jobs have been created. Pro-prison MPs and other stakeholders exaggerate the economic benefits of mega-prison construction. 

For this proposed mega-prison in Buckinghamshire, the MOJ believes that at least 100 new jobs will be created, with potential for between 500 and 600 jobs once the prison is operational. Looking at the job promise to job creation of HMP Five Wells, it is fair to assume that a small fraction of the mere one hundred jobs promised will actually be created. 

When they have promised 3000 jobs, they have actually delivered 144. When they only commit to 100 jobs being created, they will deliver far less than that

The economic benefits of mega-prisons is always exaggerated by those with a stake in profiting from more prison construction.

There is also a huge emphasis on creating jobs for the local community. Of the mere 144 jobs created so far with HMP Five Wells construction, only 22% of those workers are actually from the local community – only 32 jobs have been created so far for the local community. 

Again looking at HMP Five Wells construction, only 25% on-site spend went to companies in the Wellingborough area. Construction for a new prison in Buckinghamshire will follow a similar pattern – the majority of economic benefits and job creation are not for the local community. It is the CEOs of these construction companies who are reaping all the profit, not the people who work under them, not those living locally, nor those living in other areas of the country. 

Impact on those who would be incarcerated

While the MOJ claims Buckinghamshire will be a “rehabilitative prison”, it is clear proposals like these lack real meaning. In nearby Grendon Prison, for example, it was found earlier this year that not a single ex-prisoner was re-employed within six weeks on release, as prisons do not “prepare people for the real world”. 

As Buckinghamshire suffers from increasing Covid infections, there is no reason why the MOJ should be building more prisons, as the issues related to incarcerated healthcare are only exacerbated by the coronavirus. As the incarcerated are not a priority when it comes to testing, prisons become hotspots for the virus, and those inside are disproportionately dying from outbreaks from overcrowding. Due to covid restrictions, people have been ‘dangerously’ locked up for 23-24 hours, family visitation is severely limited or completely cut off, and infections in prisons are on the rise

While nearby HMP Grendon already houses about 200 inmates, Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer recently said: “Prisoner numbers fluctuate, which is why we must have robust plans in place to ensure we always have enough places for those sentenced to custody.” When in fact, we know that building prisons only works to create more prisoners, not the other way around. Instead of adding more people into the prison system, the government should be focusing on tackling the factors we know influence incarceration numbers – better access to drug and alcohol abuse referrals, which is on the rise in Buckinghamshire, poverty, lack of job opportunity, and mental health trauma.