Justice Minister Simon Hughes today (29 January 2015) opened new accommodation just outside the gates of Styal prison, which will act as a stepping stone back into the community for female prisoners nearing release.
Time spent in open prisons affords low risk prisoners the opportunity to find work, re-establish family ties, reintegrate into the community and ensure housing needs are met before their release. These are essential components for successful resettlement and an important factor in protecting the public.
However until today, a female offender nearing release from custody would need to move to one of only 2 women’s open prisons, potentially having to move a long distance away from their homes, families and local community.
That is why the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is reconfiguring the women’s prison estate, to keep women closer to home by providing smaller open prison units next to existing ‘closed’ prisons.
HMP Styal is the first prison to launch its open accommodation, with a house just beyond the prison gate which will house up to 25 offenders.
Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:
The launch of the open accommodation at Styal is the first step of a vital reform we are making to the women’s prison estate – helping female offenders prepare for their release by testing them in open conditions, and at the same time keeping them as close to home as possible.
This will mean that before leaving custody, they can already start to make the local links they need on their release – such as finding job opportunities, housing, or other local services.
These are essential factors to helping offenders turn away from crime and change their lives for good.
All offenders being located in open conditions have been risk assessed and categorised as being of low risk to the public and a low risk of reoffending.
Notes to Editors
Styal prison is a women’s local prison near Wilmslow in Cheshire and serves the Courts of North West England and Wales. The prison has capacity to hold 460 women in closed conditions and up to a further 25 in open conditions.
Of the 12 women’s prisons, only East Sutton Park (Kent) and Askham Grange (Yorkshire) are open prisons. Styal is the first ‘closed’ prison to develop open accommodation alongside the main establishment.
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