UK

Spending Review: Nine New Prisons To Replace Victorian-Era Jails

09/11/2015 12:16 GMT | Updated 09/11/2015 17:59 GMT

Nine new prisons are to be built in an effort to combat high levels of re-offending and modernise ageing facilities, the government has announced.

Victorian-era jails, some of which have been in operation for over 150 years, are to be replaced with newly-designed buildings more able to provide crucial rehabilitation facilities.

The proposals are to be included in the government's Autumn spending review, with George Osborne hailing the opportunity to free-up land in city centres to provide additional housing.

Victorian diagrams of two of London's oldest jails contrast with modern-day photographs to show just how little things have changed since their construction.

Except for additional buildings built on the prison grounds, Wandsworth Prison in south west London and Pentonville Prison in north London retain their Victorian masterplans - designed and built in the 1800s.

Victorian Era Prisons

Prisons at Wandsworth, Brixton, Pentonville and Leeds are thought to be being considered for closure and relocation under the scheme.

These views from inside Victorian-era jails portray the realities of living in century-old quarters, how life inside them appears little changed through the decades, and why the government is finally planning to replace them.

Victorian Era Prisons

George Osborne said: "This spending review is about reform as much as it is about making savings.

One important step will be to modernise the prison estate. So many of our jails are relics from Victorian times on prime real estate in our inner cities.

“So we are going to reform the infrastructure of our prison system, building new institutions which are modern, suitable and rehabilitative. And we will close old, outdated prisons in city centres, and sell the sites to build thousands of much-needed new homes."

The Justice Secretary Michael Gove said the new prisons would "design out dark corners" which enable illegal activity.

In July, Britain's chief prisons inspector, Nick Hardwick, wrote (PDF): "More prisoners were murdered, killed themselves, self-harmed and were victims of assaults than five years ago." He concluded that efforts to increase rehabilitation of prisoners were failing in too many prisons.