Lancashire 'super prison' inmates released on day license will be 'risk assessed' - but could still use same transport as children from village
Inmates at a proposed new prison site in a small village near Leyland could be allowed out on temporary day release to go to work, but will have been 'risk assessed' and 'face strict conditions' according to the Ministry of Justice.
But this is not enough to put parents at ease, who fear their young children could end up boarding the same bus or walking on the street beside criminals from the prison.
Plans to build a third prison in the quiet Lancashire village of Ulnes Walton was met with outrage from local residents, who are now fighting back against the Ministry of Justice.
Locals raised numerous concerns about the proposed plans, which would see a third prison built in the small village, span more than 75,000 square feet and encroach on resident's back gardens.
HMP Garth and HMP Wymott are two prisons already built off Moss Lane.
Opening their front doors to a busy new car park opposite was also a major concern, as well as the proposed height of the building which many feared would mean inmates could see over the trees and onto the housing estate.
And there was major concerns raised over the safety of children, many of which use the only two bus services that go through the estate of Moss Lane - the 112 and 412, after it was announced some prisoners could be given temporary day releases to leave the jail and go out to work.
But a spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice confirmed that inmates would be risk assessed, saying: “Public protection is our priority and prisoners released on temporary licence are carefully risk-assessed and face strict conditions."
Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) is considered for offenders towards the end of their sentence, after "robust risk assessment" while taking into account their individual resettlement needs.
By providing opportunities to work, a temporary release from prison is offered to help prevent offenders from returning to crime, with the compliance rate over 99 per cent.
It is down to the Parole Board to help assess whether individual inmates could be safely managed in the community if released on a permanent basis.
The MOJ also suggested that should the proposed plans be given the green light by Chorley Council planning officials, on November 23, they would "minimise disruption to transport networks and will boost biodiversity through the planting of new woodlands.”
But many were quick to point out that the plans would already involve the tearing down of old oak trees, ash trees and other woodland in order to erect the site.
Having considered feedback received by the local community at the public consultation, which ran from June 14 to July 19 of this year, the Ministry of Justice today confirmed it would "continue to work with the local community to ensure the social and economic benefits a new prison would bring to the area is felt by local residents".
Residents raised concerns that the site would cause an increase to traffic in the area, which many of the quiet roads would not be able to handle.
And the lack of enough spaces on the new car park development was also a concern - just over 500 spaces for a total number of 700 new jobs, with many fearing staff and day visitors would dump their cars outside their homes.
But when contacted the Ministry of Justice confirmed the planning application included a Transport Assessment and an Outline Travel Plan which considers the local highway network and sustainable transport provision.
It also suggested it was confident that the car park would have sufficient space to meet the new prison’s needs.
Worries were raised by many locals, who set up Change.org petitions and local Facebook campaigning groups, about the environmental impact of the plans and increase in flooding, with the development set to take place on green belt land.
But a statement from the Ministry of Justice added: "We expect the proposals to benefit the natural environment and estimate a 20 per cent gain in biodiversity across the site. New habitats for wildlife will be created by planting woodland, enhanced grassland, hedgerow and developing six new ponds.
"A Flood Risk Assessment has taken place concluding that the development will not have an adverse impact on flood risk in the surrounding area. Should the proposals go ahead, a detailed drainage strategy will form part of the full application."
Objections to the plans can still be made on the Chorley Council website, with plans set to be decided on by planning officers on November 23.