Union against private running of £253m Wellingborough prison convenes meeting

A union that represents prison workers will be holding a meeting about plans for Wellingborough’s new mega-prison next month.

The Public and Commercial Services Union says that rather than the £235m prison currently being built in the town, being run by the private sector as planned, it should be in public ownership.

Kier are building HMP Wellingborough which is costing 253m and will house 1,650 inmates.

Kier are building HMP Wellingborough which is costing 253m and will house 1,650 inmates.

The prison build has recently come under target by campaigners who are against the government’s expansion of the prison estate and say instead the hundreds of millions should be spent on community services.

The prison – which will showcase a new design – will house up to 1650 prisoners, more than double the number held in the former Wellingborough jail house which was closed in 2012.

HM Prison and Probation Branch Executive Committee member Adam Wissen said: “The closure of HMP Wellingborough was one of a number of small to medium-sized prisons which were closed by the Coalition Government with disastrous consequences for prisoners and staff alike.

Staff were forced out of the job and the community they had often spent a great many years working in. Prisoners were often transferred further away from home, into much larger prisons holding over 1,000 prisoners.

“These prisons were, of course, dealing with the ridiculous budget cuts the Government had foisted upon them, leading to year on year increases in violence, drugs, and self-harm across the prison estate.

“In 2018 it was announced that a new prison would be built on the old site of the closed HMP Wellingborough. In another bizarre twist, it was announced that both of these new prisons would be run by the private sector, the Public Sector Prison Service would not even be allowed to bid to run either of them.

The PCS HMPPS Branch believes there is an urgent debate to be had on the future of prisons, their size, who runs them and what they are used for.

In May 2018 we launched our alternative vision for prisons. We believe that only public ownership and an alternative strategy on re-habilitation can deliver a Prison Service fit for the future and cut re-offending in the community.”

Wellingborough Council leader Martin Griffiths is in favour of the plan and says it will boost the local economy. There will also be skills training centre on-site.

The meeting is being held on Friday, September 13th at the Friends Meeting House in St John’s Street, Wellingborough from 6pm – 8pm.

Speakers include Leader of the Labour Group on Wellingborough Borough Council Cllr Andrew Scarborough, and Andy Baxter from the Prison Officers Union.