North Wales Police Boss Slams Prison Funding Inequality

A police boss has hit out because North Wales Police will not be paid extra for the extra workload created by the new super-prison in Wrexham.

Arfon Jones, the new North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner at Police HQ in Colwyn Bay.

Arfon Jones, the new North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner at Police HQ in Colwyn Bay.

According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, HMP Berwyn will cost at least £250,000 a year to police when it opens later this month.

Mr Jones is unhappy there will not be any additional funding available to cover the cost – especially as Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will receive extra cash to cover the increased demand on their services.

The Commissioner has written to Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, to complain about the “apparent inequality” in relation to funding.

When it’s full the £212 million category C  prison will be able to house 2,106 offenders, making it the largest in the UK.

Construction work began on the site on the Wrexham Industrial Estate in May 2015.

It’s been estimated that once operational the prison will create about 1,000 jobs and boost the local economy by about £23 million per year.

Mr Jones said: “As a County Councillor in Wrexham, I have welcomed the introduction of the prison and acknowledge the significant benefits it will bring to the local economy.

“I do however also have concerns that the impact on the local infrastructure has been underestimated and will generate significant costs for the local authority and other public sector bodies.

“I am also a former chair of the Community Health Council in Wrexham and I am aware of the significant demand the prison will place on the local health board.

“It was therefore pleasing to hear of the agreement reached between NOMS (National Offender Management Service) and the Ministry of Justice that will see funding being made available to the local health board to cover the increased demand generated by the prison and the services that the health board will be delivering inside the prison.

“Yet as a PCC, I must question the apparent inequality. North Wales Police have been advised that they will not receive any financial assistance whatsoever from Central Government, despite estimates (which are conservative in my view) of annual revenue costs of £0.25 million.”

In a reply to the commissioner, Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice,  said his letter had been passed on to the Home Office because he was unable to comment on the funding arrangements for North Wales Police.