A brand new prison designed to help cut crime, rehabilitate offenders and boost the local economy has officially opened in Leicester.
Category C prison HMP Fosse Way will house 1,715 prisoners and include innovations to bolster security and state-of-the-art workshops to help prisoners find work.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has billed it as the greenest prison ever constructed in the UK, thanks to greener fuels, renewable energy, and electric construction machinery.
Justice secretary Alex Chalk said the prison signals a new approach by “creating safe, modern places that utilise the latest technology to place rehabilitation and cutting crime at their core”.
In total, 71 ex-offenders and prisoners released on temporary licence were part of the 500 people involved in the construction of the prison.
It will feature 24 workshops and help offenders learn skills such as how to drive construction vehicles in a simulator, manufacture glasses, and construct concrete components and lighting equipment that can be used in future prison builds.
The new jail, on the site of the old HMP Glen Parva, started accepting a small number of prisoners on 29 May.
The build has also seen £180 million spent with local construction suppliers.
Among the security-improving “smart” designs at Fosse Way are X-shaped blocks with wider, shorter corridors and fewer prisoners on each wing – which allows staff to see all cells and offenders quickly.
Cells have ultra-secure, bar-less windows to help end the smuggling of illegal drugs, phones and weapons into jails.
Prisoners are also to get devices to access education and learning from inside their cell.
These are kitted out with strong security to ensure they are not abused, while airport-style body scanners are deployed to prevent contraband from getting on to the wings.
Lessons about concrete components in construction backed by a computer-aided design education qualification, LED lighting, an optical lab run by The Prisons Opticians are among a range of state-of-the-art workshops, aimed at helping the prisoners find work once they are released.
There is also a music classroom where record company representatives can help offenders train in music production for industry qualifications and a driving simulator enabling prisoners to learn how to drive construction vehicles in preparation for getting a HGV permit.
Chalk added: “The cutting-edge design will give offenders every opportunity to turn around their lives, while also providing a significant boost in this government’s drive to grow the economy.”