Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Prison will put local emergency services under huge pressure

Wrexham’s planned new prison will put local emergency services under additional pressure, says Plaid Cymru's parliamentary candidate Carrie Harper.

Plaid Cymru added that Wales’s First Minister is misleading local people over the planned new prison when he says it wouldn’t cause any extra pressures on health, police and fire services.

In a recent newspaper article, First Minister Carwyn Jones was asked if he shared local people’s concerns about the impact of the proposed jail in Wrexham on existing emergency services.

His answer was an emphatic No:

“No I don’t. I can speak from experience on this because I have a prison in my own constituency and all these fears were expressed about HMP Parc when it was built in the mid-90s. There has been no indication at all in the last 20 years of that prison being open of any extra pressure being brought on the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend as a result of it.”
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrexham, said:

“The First Minister is incredibly complacent or ignorant about the impact of prisons on local services. According to official statistics for 2013 HMP Parc in his own Bridgend constituency saw the emergency services going to the prison no less than 238 times in 2013. That’s more than four times a week.

· South Wales Police recorded 129 incidents (not all may have been responded to).

· Welsh Ambulance Service attended 105 AS1 incidents

· South Wales Fire Service attended 4 incidents recorded as 'Fire'

“It should be remembered that the proposed new prison in Wrexham would be 50% bigger than the one in Parc. These figures challenge the notion that a large prison is 'impact free' for the local community and emergency services, which are already hard pressed. The last thing we need at the moment is additional pressures on already hard-pressed ambulance, police and fire services.

“We need an honest debate about the cost of this prison on the NHS, police and fire service.

 "Furthermore one of the key arguments for placing the prison in North Wales was to assist prisoners or prison leavers from the region to take advantage of the support services available to them either by local authorities or the Welsh Government (e.g. Transitional Support Service and Prison Link Cymru). By building a prison in north Wales it is anticipated that the estimated 500 prisoners from north Wales who will be held there would take advantage of the services made available to Welsh prisoners by local support services and agencies.

“Who will pay for these additional support services once the prison is built? What impact will the prison have on local housing service, local drug and alcohol abuse facilities and the like? The First Minister is living in cloud-cuckoo land if he believes there is no cost to the Welsh taxpayer from this huge new facility.”
She added: “Westminster still has control over prisons and policing in Wales, something Plaid Cymru wants to see devolved. If elected in May 2015, I will be pressing the Ministry of Justice of answers on the above matters and raising the concerns of Wrexham people in London.”

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