Meeting call over prison

Photo: IAN ROBINSON. Kirkham Prison
Photo: IAN ROBINSON. Kirkham Prison

Town councillors are eager to seek more information after it was announced by the Government that Kirkham Prison is to become a resettlement jail as part of a shake-up of the prison estate.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling said the intention is for Kirkham to be one of 70 resettlement prisons which will see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area in which they will live.

Coun Liz Oades, who serves on Fylde and Lancashire County Councils as well as Kirkham Town Council, said it was the first she had heard of the proposed change and that she was keen to obtain more details.

“I will contact the town clerk now and ask her to set up a meeting with the Governor so we can find out the full implications,” said Coun Oades.

“We have always had a good relationship with the prison but I think it is the definition of ‘in or near’ in the minister’s comment which needs clarifying.

“Most of the prisoners at Kirkham come from Manchester and Liverpool and a town of Kirkham’s size certainly couldn’t absorb that number of people being released.”

Mr Grayling said that existing prisons up and down the country will function as resettlement prisons with a trial starting in the north west of England in the autumn.

HMP Preston is also named on the list.

The Justice Secretary plans to build a £250m super-prison in North Wales, while he announced a raft of prison closures covering some 2,600 inmate places in January.

Mr Grayling said: “Rehabilitation in the community must begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates if we are to stand a chance of freeing them from a life of crime.

“Currently a local area could expect to receive offenders from dozens of prisons across the country – this is hopeless.

“It is little wonder we have such high re-offending rates when you have a prisoner leaving HMP Liverpool, given a travel permit to get them home to the south coast, and then expected to simply get on with it.”