No bars and river views: Inside UK’s new £250,000,000 privately-run prison

The UK’s first privately run mega-prison is getting close to completion, with new pictures showing how it looks inside.

HMP Five Wells is expected to open next January

HMP Five Wells is intended to modernise the traditional prison image, with no bars on the windows and shorter corridors.

It is meant to have more of a focus on rehabilitation, with those living there Category C prisoners.

It has so far gained headlines for its views, as some of the rooms will look out over the River Nene as well as a fishing lake.

In addition, there will be four football pitches for people to exercises and a gardening area.

Some people have immediately taken issue online with the £253 million prison, which will become England’s biggest jail, housing 1,680 inmates.

The windows will not have bars on
The buildings have been built in a cross shape instead of a more traditional K shape

One man wrote on Facebook: ‘Sorry but I thought the idea was to punish them?? What next, officers bringing them breakfast in bed?’

Another asked: ‘Can I book a weekend please with en suite?’

Others said that the prison was still not up to a good enough standard.

One Twitter user asked: ‘Who came up with the idea that a barless window makes any difference to one’s state of mind?’ Given the surroundings outside the window this will not help anybody. The most crucial thing which makes a difference is fresh air, I see another flawed design which blocks such.’

In 2019, the prison service confirmed they would not longer include bars on prison windows that were built in future.

This is because the feature dated back to when there was either no glass on windows or more fragile glass.

In fact, strong glass is more secure, they said.

A spokesman said: ‘Secure, sealed windows with toughened glass and narrow vents will be used in all cells in future prisons and is just one of the measures being put in place to help stop drugs and illicit mobile phones.

‘These windows are difficult to break, making them more effective in stopping prisoners from accessing contraband.’

HMP Five Wells has been built on the site of the former HMP Wellingborough, which closed in 2012.

It has been finished structurally, and work is now ongoing on the interior with a view to the first inmates arriving in January.

Some of the prisoners will have a river view from their rooms
A single room in the new prison

Private company Kier group was awarded a £253m contract by the Ministry of Justice in 2019 for the new build resettlement prison. It will be run by security business G4S.

The prison’s Twitter account shared images of the construction, saying: ‘Been a busy day on site today but took the opportunity to grab a couple of pics for you.

‘One of a double room, there are 84 in total, and one of the single rooms with the FANTASTIC barless window albeit not the best view at present #bestprisonever.’

The roof of the prison will be covered with solar panels.

The jail designers have ditched the usual K-shaped formation of prison housing blocks and instead used seven staggered cross-shaped buildings.

Since Victorian times, the K-block style has been favoured with the idea that a single prison officer could be placed in the centre of the radial arms of corridors and survey all the cells quickly.

The new cross-shaped buildings mean the corridors are broken up into smaller zones, rather than long corridors, which will enable prison staff to have more direct contact with prisoners.

There will be one central hub for education, vocational training and social facilities.

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