Reading Prison To Close

4 September 2013, 11:12 | Updated: 4 September 2013, 12:20

Reading Prison is one of four being shut down across the country with a new 'super-jail' being planned in the south-east.

Reading Prison is one of four across the country which will be shut down.

The Government has announced a new 2,000 place prison will be built in Wrexham, and a second large prison will be constructed in the South East of England.

The Ministry of Justice has announced around 300 young offenders are being transferred from Reading Prison.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson told Heart: "There are 160 staff there and it is very important that they are helped into other jobs or redeployed within the prison service".

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "This is the latest part of our plan to modernise our prisons, bring down costs, but to make sure that by the next election we still have access to more prison places than we inherited in 2010."

By closing HMPs Reading, Blundeston, Dorchester and Northallerton it is anticipated that a further £30m a year will be cut from the overall prison budget.

The Ministry of Justice says the decision to close HMP Reading follows concerns around the limited size of the site, which leaves little scope for development and does not provide suitable environment in which to deliver modern prison services.

Speaking about the decision, Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said: "This decision was not taken lightly and is in no way a reflection of the hard work and commitment of staff, nor of the prison's performance.

"However, we cannot shy away from the fact that funds are limited and we need to make sure we are running prisons as efficiently as we can to maximise value for the taxpayer.

"This will clearly be a difficult time for everyone involved and we will do all we can to offer support and ensure that the prison continues to operate safely and securely in the run-up to closure."

Work to close HMP Reading will begin immediately and it is expected to shut at the end of the year. Everything will be done to avoid compulsory redundancies and our intention is for all staff to be redeployed to alternative roles in the prison estate or, if necessary, offered the opportunity to leave on voluntary terms.

Heart's been told offenders at Reading will be moved to other suitable prison accommodation.