Shock at prison plan for Dagenham

John Phillips A PRIVATELY-run supersized prison holding up to 1,500 dangerous criminals is to be built at the site of old Ford motor works in Dagenham. The category B prison – one grade short of top security jails including Belmarsh and Whitemoor – is to open at Beam

John Phillips

A PRIVATELY-run "supersized" prison holding up to 1,500 dangerous criminals is to be built at the site of old Ford motor works in Dagenham.

The category B prison - one grade short of top security jails including Belmarsh and Whitemoor - is to open at Beam Reach, south of New Road near Kent Avenue by 2013.

The prison - almost as big as England's largest, Wandsworth which holds up to 1,644 inmates - was unveiled by Justice Secretary Jack Straw on Monday after controversial plans to build 2,500-place "Titan" jails were scrapped.


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Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas stormed out of the House of Commons, saying he had been informed just 20 minutes before the minister unveiled the plans, which are designed to tackle England's growing prison population.

Cautious council bosses said the jail - which the government maintains will generate about 800 jobs - could help resurrect the �750million DLR extension to Dagenham Docks, scrapped due to lack of funding by Mayor Boris Johnson in November.

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The Ministry of Justice refused to say what type of criminals would kept at the prison, but Category B prisoners are those "who do not require maximum security, but for whom escape needs to be made very difficult".

Mr Cruddas said he was "outraged" at the plans to open the prison on a site owned by Mr Johnson's London Development Agency and branded the announcement a "shoddy backstage deal" and a "fait accompli".

The Labour MP said: "There was no consultation with me. It was a sleight of hand."

But the Mayor of London's office said the plans would have to be "subjected to the scrutiny of the planning system".

Council chief executive Rob Whiteman said: "Local people in the Beam Park area will wish to see the local jobs that would be created and hear commitments on new transport into Rainham and Dagenham."

*WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email letters@bdrecorder.co.uk or write to Letters to the Editor, Barking and Dagenham Recorder, 539 High Road, Ilford, IG1 1UD.

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