The borough’s prison is set to be massively expanded under controversial rebuilding plans, ministers have admitted to a local MP.
HMP Hindley will hold 1,300 adult inmates if Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans to transform the site become reality.
The prison buildings are set to become larger and cover more space, a junior minister in the Government confirmed to Makerfield parliamentary representative Yvonne Fovargue.
Ministers also admitted to Ms Fovargue that they do not know if public sector workers will staff the new-look jail or if it will be turned out to a private security firm.
The jail will hold category C prisoners, who pose the lowest risk of all the inmates who cannot be kept in an open prison.
Details of the conversation with parliamentary under secretary of state for justice Sam Gyimah MP came to light in a letter Ms Fovargue sent to a meeting in Bickershaw organised by campaigners against the expansion plan.
In the letter Ms Fovargue said: “I received confirmation from the minister prior to the general election that HM Government remain committed to a mixed market provision with prisons run both by the public and private sector, but that no decision had been made about HMP Hindley.
“The minister confirmed that the proposed new prison will be built on a bigger footprint and will hold 1,300 category C prisoners.
“A planning application will be submitted to the local planning authority, Wigan Council in due course and this will be an opportunity for people to comment.”
Ms Fovargue was also strongly critical of conditions at the jail and said massive improvements were needed across the prison sector as a whole.
She said: “I have had the opportunity to visit HMP Hindley a number of times since my election in 2010. Sadly, it is the case that our prisons are overcrowded, understaffed and plagued with problems associated with drugs.
“This must change. No longer should profit and privatisation drive policy. We must do more to ensure that when prisoners are released they turn their backs on a life of crime.
“We must achieve our goals by working with, and most importantly treating with respect, those who work in our justice system and the trade unions that represent them.”
Plans for HMP Hindley’s transformation along with similar proposals for three other jails were announced before the general election.
Campaigners fear Hindley will become a mega prison along the lines of HMP Berwyn in North Wales, one of the largest jails in Europe capable of holding up to 2,000 inmates.