Justice minister announces replacement plans for five smaller prisons

Jack Straw, the justice minister, has confirmed that plans to build three 'Titan' prisons have been scrapped on safety grounds, in favour of a scheme to build five smaller jails.

The government announced last year it would spend £2.9bn building three super-prisons, dubbed 'Titans', to house up to 2,500 prisoners each.

Instead, it will now build five smaller jails, each holding 1,500 prisoners, at an overall cost of £3.1bn.

Jack Straw
Straw: "I have looked very carefully at everything which has been said"

In a statement to the House of Commons yesterday, Straw said it had not been deemed safe to hold so many prisoners in a single prison.

The first two mini-Titans will be built at Beam Park West in Barking, and in Runwell, Colchester. The private sector will be responsible for designing, building and running the prisons on 25-year contracts. They are intended to open in 2013.

Straw told the House of Commons: “I have looked very carefully at everything which has been said, and have concluded that the right approach is to deliver the 7,500 places not through Titans, but through five prisons holding 1,500 offenders, each divided into smaller units.”

The government's U-turn on Titans was reported in the media last week, but this is Straw's first statement on the decision.