Chancellor George Osborne has today announced that inner-city Victorian prisons will be replaced with nine new facilities. The old buildings will then be sold off or demolished in order to make way for much needed housing.
The announcement is part of a major reform programme outlined by Chancellor George Osborne and Justice Secretary Michael Gove to revolutionise the prison sector.
Around 10,000 inmates will be relocated from inner-city Victorian prisons to brand facilities, which will reportedly save £80m a year and provide more sanitary and safe facilities for prisoners overall. The newly freed sites, (the first of which is Reading, famously the prison to hold Oscar Wilde) will be refurbished and repurposed as housing, with a target of providing over 3,000 new homes.
The Chancellor said “So many of our jails are relics from Victorian times on prime real estate in our inner cities. So we are going to reform the infrastructure of our prison system, building new institutions which are modern, suitable and rehabilitative.”
The selling off of the ex-prison sites to developers is predicted to cause controversy should they be used for luxury developments, rather than affordable housing. However, experts suggest that if the sites were indeed restricted to public sector affordable housing it is highly unlikely to raise a suitable amount of money to make the project worthwhile for the Treasury.
Speaking inside Brixton prison today, George Osborne commented “We are going to reform the infrastructure of our prison system, building new institutions which are modern, suitable and rehabilitative. And we will close old, outdated prisons in city centres and sell the sites to build thousands of much-needed new homes.”
We shall see!