NORTH Wales Police are expecting no financial help with the “significant challenge” of policing the Wrexham prison, a senior officer has said.
Insp Nick Evans, who has been given the task of working with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and setting up policing measures for the jail, said he did not anticpate any extra money being allocated to the force to cover the job.
He said police resources in Wrexham would have to be “moved around” to cater for the prison before the £250 million facility becomes fully operational in 2017.
Insp Evans, who is lead officer for the prison development, said the lack of extra money was despite the prospect of the jail bringing more than 2,000 prisoners in to the area under the local police’s watch.
Incidents including assaults, drug offences and suicides at the prison would all be dealt with by North Wales Poilce officers, he said.
Insp Evans, who has recently visited other prisons across the country to see how police work with large jails, told a meeting of Rhos Community Council: “The prison will be invaluable to the area and brings many positives, most notably the money it will bring in for the local economy.
“However, it does bring significant challenges with it and these need to be balanced correctly.
“It is a massively complex situation and we’d be looking into this if it was a new hospital or shopping centre – any big new development which brings in a lot of people into the area.
“We realise a prison is going to bring with it criminal offences and crime will take place in the jail.
“The prison will deal will certain offences – things that can be dealt with ‘in-house’.
“But we will be required to deal with serious offences, such as assaults and drug offences and with suicides. However, we are not anticipating any more money coming into the force and as a result we will need to move our resources around to cater for the prison.
“There is going to be an increase in individuals in that area of Wrexham and more police will be needed there.
“However, I can assure people that when the first prisoner is in that prison we will be on top of it.”
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright, on behalf of the MoJ, said: “Our priority is to provide enough prison places for those sent there by the courts — and to do so in a way that gives taxpayers best value for money and provides improved rehabilitation opportunities to help make the public safer.
“We are continuing to work closely with North Wales Police on plans for the new prison.”
Abenbury councillor Ray Squire said the policing of the prison would impose a “heavy burden” upon North Wales Police.
“I’d like the MoJ to provide extra funding for North Wales Police,” he said. “It only seems fair that if you’re building a big prison in Wrexham, you should cover the costs of the extra policing needed for the area.”
Former-police inspector and Gwersyllt West councillor, Arfon Jones, said: “While there will be some economic benefits, these may may outweighed by the impact of the prison on the quality of life locally, for example policing numbers.
“There will be extra demands on the police, there will be assaults and other serious crime in the prison.
“I am surprised the Police Commissioner has not spoken to the MoJ regarding additional resources for Wrexham to cater for the increased demands that this prison will bring and I would expect representations to be made to him for those extra resources.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick was unavailable for comment.
Full planning permission is still to be granted on the Wrexham Industrial Estate prison, but Wrexham Council planners approved an outline planning bid by a majority vote last month.