Jail refurbishment criticised

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WATCHDOGS have slammed the decision to spend more than £760,000 on improving shower facilities at Wigan’s jail.

Members of the Taxpayers’ Alliance have hit back after Hindley Prison bosses undertook a five-month refurbishment on the bathroom areas of Britain’s biggest under-18 juvenile detention facility.

The work was carried out by the firm commissioned to build the Velodrome at the London 2012 Olympics.

Hindley Prison holds 440 inmates, many of whom are teenagers, and facilities include fitness suites and sports pitches.

Eleanor McGrath, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is a massive amount of taxpayers’ cash to spend on showers.

“The Ministry of Justice can ill afford to spend this much on refurbishments particularly at a time when budgets are so tight. It’s important that the prison authorities find the best deal possible for such refurbishments so as to provide value for taxpayers’ money.”

The prison was last year criticised by the prison watchdog, which said showers in one facility had dirty mildew and were untidy.

However, the November 2012 report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, described the other shower areas as being “in reasonable condition.”

Prison bosses said the six-figure overhaul was essential to improve outdated plumbing, which dates back to the 1960s.

A Prison Service spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said of the £760,791 spend: “This work was carried out following recommendations made by the Independent Chief Inspector of Prisons and was done in a cost-efficient way to ensure the best possible value for taxpayers.”

“Improvement work was carried out to bathroom facilities and plumbing in numerous parts of the prison. This was necessary to provide safe and secure facilities.”

Between September 26 last year, and February 22 2013, private contractor, ISG construction, refurbished the showers.

This refurbishment also comes after Hindley was the subject of controversy since the 2012 report in which Mr Hardwick raised concerns that “levels of bullying and self harm were very high.” Last year, an inmate took his own life.