HMP Altcourse

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd February 2015.

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Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton 11:30 am, 3rd February 2015

What steps he is taking to improve security and prisoner and staff safety at HMP Altcourse.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The National Offender Management Service is working very closely with the contractor in a number of areas to address those extremely important issues.

Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton

I visited the jail myself recently and there have been some welcome improvements since the action plan, but, given the damning report by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons, can the Minister assure my constituents that the prison is not only safe, but fit for purpose?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Government take this issue extremely seriously, and the Secretary of State was in that prison on Friday. We are taking five actions. First, a new director has been appointed. He was formerly director of Her Majesty’s Prison Rye Hill, and he took up his position on 8 December. There is a new head of security and a new security intelligence manager, and new search and security systems are in place. Two full lock-down searches of the prison were conducted in November and December, and improvements have been made in the operation of the basic regime, which will help with the issues that the hon. Gentleman quite properly raises.

Photo of Stephen Mosley Stephen Mosley Conservative, City of Chester

As well as taking prisoners from Merseyside, HMP Altcourse takes prisoners from Cheshire and north Wales. What will be the impact of the new super-prison at Wrexham on prisoner capacity in Cheshire, north Wales and Merseyside? [Official Report, 25 February 2015, Vol. 593, c. 3-4MC.]

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We need more adult male capacity so we are taking the right course of action by building the new prison in north Wales. There are currently no prisons in north Wales, and the new prison will enable us to house all Welsh prisoners within Wales, which we have not been able to do before. We will keep prisoners as close to their home areas as far as possible.