MP Steve Webb calls for Ashfield prison consultation

Ashfield Young Offenders Institution Mr Webb said there had been leaks and rumours and a lack of clear information over the plan

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Plans to turn a young offenders institution near Bristol into an adult jail need "proper consultation with local people" an MP has said.

Ashfield currently holds youths aged from 15 to 18 who have been detained or are on remand.

Steve Webb, MP for Thornbury and Yate, said while he understood the need, it would be a "very big change".

The move was part of a government announcement on the future of the prison service.

Mr Webb said: "I understand the argument that falling numbers of young offenders means things have to change, and that this may be the best way to keep Ashfield open.

"This has not been well handled, with leaks and rumours and a lack of clear information.

"Staff need the opportunity to feed in their views and local people should also be able to have their questions answered about the plans."

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it was "great news" that Ashfield would not hold youths.

The move is part of plans revealed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on Thursday which will see six prisons in England closed and three partially shut.

A new "super prison" with 2,000 places is also planned in either London, north-west England or north Wales.

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