Wales

Wrexham super-prison policing bill concerns raised

HMP Berwyn

There are still concerns about how the cost of policing a new super-prison in Wrexham will be funded.

HMP Berwyn is expected to open at the end of the month at a cost of £250m.

The UK Government will pay for services like health, social care and education at the prison, but is unlikely to pay for its policing.

A permanent team of North Wales Police (NWP) officers will be stationed there, but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been asked for more money.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, made the request.

Otherwise, he said the funding would have to come from the force's own budget - which could mean an increase in police precept through council tax.

"It's a £185,000 [estimated cost of policing HMP Berwyn] out of a £143m [NWP annual budget], it's not a vast amount," said Mr Jones.

"But, you know we can do a lot more with £185,000. You could probably employ three or four police officers for that, if not more. So any extra police resources are of assistance really.

"There will be police officers working within the prison, they will deal with most day to day incidents. It all depends on the seriousness of them.

"And the more serious the crimes committed, the more the implication will be on North Wales Police to investigate."

Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption HMP Berwyn will be Britain's biggest prison when it opens

The MoJ is responsible for the prison, but policing comes under the Home Office's brief.

A Home Office spokesperson said the force was due to receive more money in the 2017-18 settlement, £1.9m more more than in 2015-16.

"Decisions on the operational deployment of resources are matters for chief constables, in association with police and crime commissioners, but there is no question that the police still have the resources to do their important work," the spokesperson said.

Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said the prison would impact resources and the way the force worked, but it had done extensive research and worked closely with relevant authorities and the MoJ.

He added: "We will continue to liaise regularly with the Prison Governor and other agencies and I am satisfied that we have plans in place to deal with likely issues as they arise."

The complex will hold 2,200 inmates and will be the UK's largest prison.

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