Former Category A prisoners moved to ‘low-risk’ HMP Berwyn
Data obtained by Plaid Cymru shows that 16 prisoners that were previously categorised as the most dangerous to society were held at the ‘low-risk’ HMP Berwyn during 2017.
The Wrexham prison is officially a Category C prison, however, the data shows that at least 16 prisoners previously held in Category A prisons – the highest category – were detained in HMP Berwyn.
Plaid Cymru’s Justice Spokesperson and Westminster Parliamentary Leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, says it is further evidence that the north Wales ‘super prison’ is being used as a ‘dumping ground’ for criminals. North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, also commented that it risks exacerbating issues created by stretched resources and inexperienced staff, which is already putting strain on managing inmates and policing the facility.
The transfer of former Category A prisoners to a Category C facility could pose a serious risk to staff, inmates and the wider public. Without the proper security facilities and training, Prison Officers at HMP Berwyn could struggle to detain former Category A prisoners safely.
Category A detainees are described as those whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. Offences committed by Category A inmates would include murder, wounding with intent and the illegal use of firearms.
HMP Berwyn opened in February 2017 for more than 2,200 inmates, making it the largest prison in Europe. Despite that, it is currently only half full due to staffing and security issues.
Commenting on the statistics Liz Saville Roberts MP said:
“Detaining criminals convicted of violent crimes in a Category C facility is not safe for staff, inmates or the wider public. Local people were told that only low-risk prisoners would be detained in HMP Berwyn when it was being built, these statistics show this is clearly not the case. We were also told that HMP Berwyn would hold suitable prisoners from north Wales, but evidence shows that they are still being sent to distant prisons, remote from the rehabilition benefits of being close to home, family and potential employers.
“This is particularly concerning for a new prison, such as HMP Berwyn which has open less than two years. These are prisoners who have been held at the highest security level possible and will undoubtedly, due to their experience of the prison system, be adroit at manipulating inexperienced staff, which would in turn affect the stability of the prison.
“We need a genuinely rehabilitative justice system, that does not simply transfer problem prisoners from facility to facility in disorder. “Neither HMP Berwyn nor Wales in general should be allowed to become a dumping ground of convenience for criminals from across the UK.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said:
“The high-demand on police officers at HMP Berwyn is not helped by the introduction of inmates coming from Category A prisons. Many of these offenders have committed violent offences and put other inmates and staff at risk.
“There is already a high level of offending at HMP Berwyn, nothing should be done to make this worse.
“Inexperienced staff and stretched resources are already creating huge strains on the facility itself and the policing of it. With extra policing required not funded by the UK Government and no more resources to cope with the increased risk, the situation is unlikely to get any better.
“This prison was sold to the people of north Wales as a Category C, low-risk facility. The slide towards a higher category prison must be stopped.”