or Titan jail
is a new classification of large prison
announced in government proposals to expand the prison capacity of England
The Labour Government Justice Minister Jack Straw
had initiated a review of over-crowding in the prison system. This resulted in the December 2007 report, Securing the Future - Proposals for the efficient and sustainable use of custody in England and Wales
, produced by Lord Carter of Coles
Review of Prisons
The report amongst other issues proposed the building three new prisons larger than any before built. The existing largest prisons held on average 1,461 prisoners. The new Titan jails would hold 2,500 prisoners each.
There are three proposed Titan prisons, one due for completion in 2012, the other 2 in 2014. They will likely be located in London, the West Midlands and the North West of England.
The Titan prisons will comprise five units, each with about 500 offenders in different segments. The segments will be served central catering and healthcare facilities. The new prisons will incorporate technology by design, including electronic locking and bio-metric identification.
The stated advantages are relieved overcrowding, with prison places rising to 96,000 from the current 81,000. The new prisons would also allow closure of existing old facilities, some dating from the Victorian era
. The new facilities would also provide economies of scale in the construction and operation of the new prison places.
The plans were criticised over the availability of possible sites, and the possibility of planning delays and disputes. This was proposed to be remedied by direct approach to the Minister of State.
The policy was also criticised for going against the established benefit of smaller prisons closer to prisoners homes, allowing better interaction between prisoners and family/prison staff.
Security concerns were also raised, pointing out Lord Woolf's report following the 1990 riots at Manchester Prison (known as Strangeways at the time), recommending a maximum prison size of 400.
The National Council of Independent Monitoring Boards also claimed that ministers have not explained why they would save money.
In January 2008 it was announced that the prisons HMP Blakenhurst, Brockhill and Hewell Grange
will be merged into one, as a newly named 1,428 capacity prison, HMP Redditch
, due to be in place by April 2008. The three prisons are all sited on the estate of Hewell Grange a country house Worcestershire
, and will not be demolished. Rather, several administrative and management functions will be merged for efficeincy, along the Titan model.