Wales ‘being turned into a penal colony’ warns prison charity head

Picture by Kazan Vperemen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Wales is being turned into a “penal colony” and the “Botany Bay of the 21st century” according to the head of a penal reform charity.

Frances Cook, the CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform, was responding to plans to build a new, 1,600 capacity mega-prison near Port Talbot.

She noted that there was already a mega-prison in Wrexham, HMP Berwyn, and three others in Swansea, Usk and Cardiff.

“Wales is becoming the Botany Bay of 21st century,” she said. “England shoving its urban poor onto the hulks & shipping them off to Wales.

“Is England turning Wales into a new penal colony?”

She also rejected suggestions that the prison could create new jobs in Wales, warning that it would have low staffing and lead to job losses at prisons in Swansea and Cardiff.

The UK Government had already been accused of dumping England’s prison population on Wales after it was revealed that fewer than 10% of HMP Berwyn’s prisoners are from the north of Wales.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said that Berwyn was never built to cater for Welsh needs, but rather “built in response to the overcrowding crisis in English prisons”.

The Howard League is the oldest penal reform organisation in the world. The charity focuses on penal reform in Wales and England.


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Cofi Dre
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Cofi Dre

Quick question: where the hell is Plaid Cymru when it comes to real on the ground issues that make people get out and vote? Issues like this.

That isn’t a rhetorical question by the way.

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

First heard about the prison from Plaid, and Leanne was on BBC about it.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Well done Frances Cook. She’s based away from Wales but has enough savvy to pick up on an obvious trend, which our dozy politicians have either ignored, been blissfully unaware, or have connived in creating. If this is the kind of employment and “business activity” that our Welsh Government thinks is good for our country then they must be replaced a.s.a.p. Read extensive coverage of this issue and related matters such as relocation of “difficult cases” into Wales from English metropolitan regions on jacothenorth’s blog. He’s generated a lot of light on these matters over recent years which our MSM… Read more »

Mike Flynn
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Mike Flynn

The new prison at Port Talbot will replace the overcrowded facilities in Cardiff and Swansea which together house nearly 1300 inmates. It will provide much needed local jobs both in construction and staffing and built on publicly owned land.

I understand the locals concerns but it will be a catagory C prison so no great risk.

New prisons are being also being built at Full Sutton in Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan and Rochester in Kent.

The construction of HMP Berwyn has been well supported by the local authority in Wrexham.

This is the old NIMBY routine trotted out whenever something new is built.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

The construction of HMP Berwyn may well have been ‘well supported by the local authority in Wrexham’, but it wasn’t so well supported by the ordinary people of Wrexham, or North Wales either. Far from being nimbysim, there are legitimate concerns about the siting of these huge prisons in Wales largely containing convicts from England. It’s high time Wales had a separate system, similar to that of Scotland where we have our own distinct justice service. As a slight aside, given that the proposed prison at Port Talbot is to be a Category C, then it could be considered that… Read more »

Lyn Thomas
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Lyn Thomas

There was certainly a need for a prison in North Wales for the needs of North Wales, Berwyn is a super prison, which is not what is needed. More than anything we need smaller local prisons so that family ties can be kept – which is so important for rehabilitation. We are also in dire need of women’s prisons in Wales. Being used as a dumping ground is not the answer to our problems. The sooner Wales takes control of the administration of justice the better.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

As I understand it Port Talbot will be a Cat C prison and replace Swansea and Cardiff. In all probability it will house mostly local prisoners.

I am sure South Wales families would object if their partners were housed in somewhere like Stoke on Trent where the new jobs would be welcomed.

Cofi Dre
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Cofi Dre

Yeah right – I’ll believe Mike Flynn instead of the two prison experts…

Mike Flynn
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Mike Flynn

I was merely pointing out that replacing Cardiff and Swansea with a new unit midway between the two cities appears logical.

Royston Jones
Guest

I’m not sure who you are or where you live, but if you think Baglan is “midway between the two cities” of Swansea and Cardiff, then you don’t know Wales very well. What’s more, there’s a strong chance that if built at all it will be in Swansea, which will be even less convenient for Cardiff.

But I’m only giving you this geography lesson because you’ve argued that the new prison will be a Category C establishment replacing the existing prisons in Swansea and Cardiff, but do you have any evidence for that? Has anyone with authority over prisons said it?

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

In answer to your question Royston…Do I know my geography of Wales. Last time I took of from Cardiff and flew to Swansea Baglan was near enough half way. As a gog you might be confused by driving around the lower regions of Wales. I spent over a decade flying myself in a small aircraft in around and over just about every part of Wales while presenting my own daily programme on Radio Wales.Google me on wiki.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Radio_Wales I know you are a retired plumber and doubt you are as familar with Wales as I am. To comment on the nation… Read more »

Royston Jones
Guest

You’re more of an idiot than I first thought. Baglan is on Swansea Bay, and about 30 miles from Cardiff. To think it was “near enough half way” while flying can only mean that you had entered the dreaded Pencoed Triangle. You were lucky to escape. I am not a Gog but a native of Swansea. You had a programme on Radio Wales! Thank God I missed it. But does that mean you’re claiming to be a journalist? I have never been a plumber. (I suggest you stop relying on Phil Parry for information, it’ll only get you into trouble.)… Read more »

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

What devalues you comments on all these issues Royston is the massive chip on your shoulder re anything that does not fit your small minded agenda. You can google me and ditto you. What I find was amusing is this. http://mikecrid.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/who-is-this-jac-o-north.html “‘Far as I can tell he’s a bloke called Royston from Swansea who moved to the North donkeys years ago. Attended Coleg Harlech and now lives in Tywyn or thereabouts. What d’you reckon Royston? How inaccurate is my biography of three lines?” What a coincidence. When I first moved from Wrexham to work for BBC Radio Wales in the… Read more »

Royston Jones
Guest

I suppose you’re trying to say something but I really can’t be bothered to figure it out.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

I am saying I might respect you if you had made some sort of contribution to Welsh media Royston.

However your biggotted inward looking agenda serves no purpose. You might as well sit on the beach at Llantwit and order the tide to not invade the Welsh side of the Severn Estuary.

If you were not a plumber then please tell us how you have earned a living over the yesrs?

I suspect you will run away and refuse to answer the question.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

Better the jobs are kept in Wales than lost across the border. There will be further employment with the redevelopment of the two old Victorian prisons that will close.

Cofi Dre
Guest
Cofi Dre

It was your accusation of Nimbyism and the assertion of loadsa jobs that I disputed. As for ‘jobs in construction’ we all know that construction jobs are a mirage: many building jobs are temporary and contractual and end when the building is done, or people come in from elsewhere and build things then drive away (as happens here in Bangor), or existing builders are used who may sometimes temporarily contract some new people. It’s not a job creator in the way that starting a company or opening a shop is. As for the prison officer and admin and cleaning jobs… Read more »

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

As I recall from other recent exchanges on here Mr Flynn is a lifelong media guy – so WTF would he know about job creation, other than spouting a line of drivel handed to him in a press release from some government dept ? Fact – construction in U.K has been structurally knackered ( no pun intended ) by series of bad economy judgements by governments. Once confidence was diminished businesses found it “safer” to use subcontract labour and with steady reduction of trained craftsmen due to erosion of core workforce this led to inevitable skill shortages. Mr Blair’s “solution”… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

The construction industry has always been thus, with legions of sub-contractors being used on major projects. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists described working conditions in the construction industry in the late 19th early 20th centuries, and much of it remains relevant today. I’d guess that if you went back to ancient Egypt you’d discover that the pyramids themselves were largely built by sub-contractors! The same is probably true of Wales’ Edwardian castles. And it’s pretty certain that no locals were employed on those building projects! Your criticism of a lack of skills training extends right across the employment spectrum, and this… Read more »

Dafis
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Dafis

don’t I know it ! I remember commenting on lack of engineering skills in the mid-80’s and an employer dismissing it as rubbish as “people would become available in the “shake-out” ( Mad Maggies’s destruction of large swathes of industry, which may have been inefficient but could have been reshaped & revived)”. People like that still occupy top jobs, indeed it seems to be a prerequisite that you have to be lacking in vision to be appointed to such a role. Today many employers check out the size of the training grant/funding when making decisions rather than attempt to assess… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Indeed, Mad Maggie’s destruction of state owned industry was more about destruction of the unions than anything else. Wales’ economy was far too reliant on basic industries and most attempts to diversify the economy were more cosmetic than effective, and didn’t really involve the most important people, the workers themselves. It’s significant that the Wales TUC attracted some criticism from he mainstream body in 1982 when it the Wales Co-operative Centre to encourage the setting up of workers cooperatives as a means of securing employment in a Wales that was about to lose it’s most important industries. It’s still the… Read more »

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

In reply to your comment Dafis I am not a “lifelong media guy”. I don’t dispute that I have spent a long time in broadcasting and in the latter years global tv news. However I have always been a practical guy and converted dozens of old buildings over the years. Wales and indeed the UK suffers from a lack of skills due to an obsession with useless degrees such as Media Studies,Graphics,Arts and other qualifications that are worthless. What we need ,and where the real money is ,are skills such as plumbers,electricians, bricklayers and carpenters. The big money is in… Read more »

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Plenty of work, but not enough people with the skills to tackle it. We have spent approx 40 years ( since about 1979, or it could have been earlier ) faffing about with “guiding” school leavers into all sorts of university courses, initially because Mrs Thatcher killed off the short term demand for skills ( based on thorough training ) followed by Blair’s daft vision that everybody should be able to get a degree (and sod everything else ! ). By 2004 even Blair could see that the country had a huge skills deficit – plenty of humanities graduates about… Read more »

Carl
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Carl

This land was on a categorised flood plane where you cant build on they got that hurdle moved, what makes you think the prison category wont be changed once its built. Come on people they are taking the micky for god sake.

Reg
Guest
Reg

Don’t forget there’s HMP Parc, Bridgend as well.

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

NORTH WALES…..was meant to have a small prison to serve Gwynedd with Welsh speaking officers (as no jails provide Welsh services)
…………and yet we have a 2,000 super prison in Wrecsam where no one speaks Welsh to deal with first-language Welsh speakers
What a colonial joke

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

Your post confirms what I have known since my schooldays at St Josephs in Wrexham back in the mid sixties. “No one speaks Welsh” in the town. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought prison was for punishment and not indulging ethnic or religious whims. Welsh speaking prisons would lead to Romanian,Polish and even Pashtun prisons not to to mentions the various religions that would demand rights. I challenge you to find me a monoglot Welsh criminal. It is akin to Ifan Morgan Jones demanding new mid Wales roads because he insists on commuting from Ceredigion to Bangor… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Another comment from someone who appears to have absolutely no respect for anyone who speaks Welsh. Prisons are indeed punishment, but that still does not undermine the need to respect fundamental human rights, and there are few fundamental rights than being able to speak one’s own language in institutions in one’s own country. Your comment about monoglot Welsh criminals is as illuminating as it is crassly stupid, as there are many monoglot Welsh criminals who only speak English – though of course you meant criminals who solely speak Cymraeg. Many prisoners from areas where Cymraeg is strong will struggle to… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

Who says prison works- ISIS, drug barons, criminal gangs/fraudsters/boiler room scammers short of recruits with the necessary skills? A fair share based on Wales’ population size of Britain’s prison population of ~85000 would be ~4000. Beyond that and expect an old stereotype to re-emerge – “Taffy was a beggar man, Taffy was a thief” regardless of where the prisoners actually come from. Question any project in Wales and expect to be accused of being anti Welsh jobs and anti Welsh economic development. Of course, Australia no longer accepts the UK’s convicts and controls its own immigration. Gough Whitlam’s struggle to… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Last convict ship for Australia left Britain in 1867.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

The Howard League for Penal Reform do not want to accept there are very bad people out there. In my opinion they live on another planet just believing that career criminals are ordinary folk who strayed off the straight and narrow.

Magistrates and Judges are fully aware of the capacity of the system. Prison is a last resort in most cases.

A prison at Baglan will not kill people like the old chemical works.

Take a look at this http://oem.bmj.com/content/oemed/52/4/217.full.pdf

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Your comment on, Howard League, Mr. Flynn – veritas.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

In an ideal world there would be no bad people or the need for punishment and incaceration.

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Going by some comments on, Nation Cymru, Mr. Flynn…In an ideal world there’d be no English. I joke.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

I don’t this board is a place where jokes go down well! When it comes to criminal activity BBC Wales, my old employers from decades ago ,are worthy of the stocks. Abuse of public funds springs to mind. Here is an email from Wrexham MP Ian Lucas in response to my recent complaints ….. Dear Mike “I have had similar correspondences from constituents who are extremely angry at the way in which BBC Wales is treating fans of Wrexham FC. I have written to BBC Wales on a couple of occasions in the last month regarding this very issue. I… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Okay, so we know that BBC Wales is biased towards South East Wales, and predominantly Cardiff, and whilst this is unacceptable and frustrating, it’s not any indication that crime warranting committal to prison is indicated, and even if that were the case, it is hardly relevant here and I can only assume that you have written this spiel in a pathetically vain attempt at trying to big yourself up.

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

Far from it but there is a nation called Wales that is ignored by a lot of inward looking people who fail to see the true picture and have a romantic notion of what the country should be. Sometimes I get the impression there is a desire to recreate an ‘Amish’ type enclave similar to the Patagonian migrants. There were thousands lining up,for those jobs at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham. My sister has lived in the same house in Ruabon for forty years and tells me everyone wanted that facility to replace the old Firestone Tyre Factory. The truth is… Read more »

Dafydd Huw Rees
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Dafydd Huw Rees

“Cracow will always be aligned to Vienna. Warsaw is as distant as Prague!” – Austrian version of Mike Flynn, c. 1910.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

California is closer to Mexico than it is to Washington D.C… your point is irrelevant we do not live in the Dark Ages where we need men on horseback to ride days to communicate a simple message. Anyone who claims their view to be the “true picture” is talking an utter load corn frosted manure. There’s no such thing… just differing narratives… none of which are any more true than each other. There is no intention to create an Amish type enclave but a bilingual nation which is beneficial to protecting our identity but also ensuring we remain part of… Read more »

Cofi Dre
Guest
Cofi Dre

Yawn. A piece about prisons where Mike Flynn manages to have a go at the Welsh language, Welsh-speakers’ rights, post-devoltion media ‘bias’ and anyone in north Wales who doesn’t think Merseyside is the centre of the universe.
It’s like watching 1980s Top of the Pops, but without the good songs.

sianiflewog
Guest
sianiflewog

Mike Flynn has ‘converted dozens of old buildings over the years’ (Bit of a digression this . . .). How long does it take to convert an old building? 3 to 6 months – more likely a year. Then there are the planning issues to go into and the architects. If Mike Flynn really had converted ‘dozens’ of buildings, he would have to be a full time property developer – perhaps he is, what do i know. Yet he states that he also spent [at least] 10 years with the baw biswail a charthion (BBC) as a cyfryngu. Personally, after… Read more »

gaynor
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gaynor

I wish people would stick to the subject matter highlighted by the articlebinstead of spouting irrelevant nonsense

Keith Parry
Guest
Keith Parry

The Justice system must be devolved. It should be illegal to remove anydetained person across the border to another country.