THE NEW ‘super prison’ in Wrexham could hold more dangerous prisoners than first thought.
Initially it was said the £250 million prison would be for category C prisoners, but new information from the Ministry of Justice at a public display of plans shows the prison will be built to category B standards.
The prison would then be used “primarily” for category C prisoners, but an MoJ spokesman refused to comment further on the possibility of housing higher category prisoners.
A category B prison is for prisoners for whom the highest level of security is not necessary but whose escape must be “made very difficult”.
This is compared to the category C prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to try to escape.
Prisoners are categorised depending on the risk they present to the public and the sentence they are given by the court.
The MoJ has now also said some prisoners may be allowed out of the jail, to be built at the old Firestone site at Pentre Maelor, on licence. This would be to “maintain grounds around the prison walls or to commute to employment”.
Although it insists this would only be after a rigorous assessment and any prisoners deemed to be of high risk to the public would not be allowed out.
Barbara Davies, a resident at Pentre Maelor for 43 years, said: “They have told us it is a category C prison, but that’s a load of nonsense.
“It will end up a higher prison and we will get all sorts here, murderers the lot.
“They must think we are stupid here and trying to pull the wool over our eyes.”
Janet Crowther, who was born in the area said: “This is going to be North Wales’ answer to Strangeways. With them being let out how are they going to get transported around? Are they just going to be walking past here to catch the bus? Who knows?”
Nigel Frost, who also lives in Pentre Maelor, said: “I had an idea the prison would end up higher then the catagory C and safety is a concern because we are really close to it here.”
The MoJ has said there will be a 4.2 metre high perimeter fence surrounding three and four storey accommodation blocks.
These blocks will include workshops, recreational areas, education and faith centres, healthcare facilities, kitchens and will in total house some 2,100 prisoners.
It has also said that of the 1,000 jobs the prison will bring 600 will be at the prison, of which it is hoped a “significant” number will be for local people.
The MoJ also supports the principle of a local labour clause in construction contracts to ensure the local area is getting the most from the development.
There will also be three visiting sessions a day between 9.30am and noon, 2pm-4pm, and from 6pm-7.30pm.
Work on the jail – which will be the biggest prison anywhere in England and Wales – will begin next summer, pending planning approval with an application being made by the MoJ at the end of the month.