4 October 2023
The prisoner population in St Helena has been steadily increasing over the past few years, recently reaching 25 individuals. Whilst this reflects authorities’ ongoing commitment to maintaining law and order on the Island, this increase in prisoners has presented unique challenges for the HM Prison and Offender Management Service.
With a rise in the prisoner population, comes an increased demand for cells to house prisoners, necessitating additional facilities to accommodate the growing number of prisoners.
While the long-term solution is the completion of the new prison facility in Bottoms Wood, it is important to note that this project is currently under development and not yet operational. The existing prison service has therefore had to implement temporary measures to bridge the gap until the new facility becomes operational.
The existing prison facilities were not designed to accommodate high numbers of prisoners, leading to concerns around overcrowding. Additional cells are essential to reduce overcrowding, which if not addressed, can compromise safety and security within the prison and negatively impact the living conditions of prisoners. By adding more cells, we can enhance the quality of life for prisoners, ensuring humane treatment and compliance with international standards.
Increasing capacity will also allow HM Prison Service to separate prisoners according to their classifications and needs, facilitating effective rehabilitation and security management.
In order to increase the number of cells, the workshop in HMP Jamestown has been converted. To ensure we continue to serve the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of prisoners and the local community through our regular outreach projects, the empty building known as the Pipe Store is being converted to become our new prisoner workshop and resettlement space.
The works undertaken to effectively manage the unexpected rise in prisoner numbers has been funded through the EDIP Micro Projects budget.
Building a New Prison
In order to meet the long-term custodial needs of St Helena, work is underway to design a new, fit-for-purpose prison. This is a significant undertaking. Designs are still to be finalised but SHG have completed the initial concept designs below.
This is an indicative concept design based on the current specifications, so may be subject to alterations before being finalised.
We have already sought expressions of interest for a design and build consortium to deliver this project. We hope to launch the tender documentation later this month to invite formal bids.
The new facility will be located in Bottoms Wood and is scheduled to be operational by 2026/7.
The state-of-the-art prison will feature modern amenities and technology to ensure the most efficient operation of the service possible, whilst also meeting international standards.
The facility will have a capacity for around 60 prisoners. This will mean it will be well placed to accommodate any further increases in the future prisoner population, reducing the need for temporary measures, such as utilising police custody cells.
We will be able to share more information, especially on timeframes, following receipt and evaluation of tender bids. However, quarterly EDIP presentations communicate regular information regarding this project so if you would like to know more in the meantime, we encourage you to attend.
Both the adaption implemented at HMP Jamestown and the long-term plans for a new prison are essential components of our commitment to maintaining safety, security, and justice for our community. These initiatives will not only address the immediate challenges posed by the rising prisoner population but also lay the foundation for a more modern and effective and humane prison service on St Helena.
#AltogetherSafer #HMP #Custody #Prison
4 October 2023