As the prison population rises above 82,000, the Government are identifying areas where new Open Prisons are to be built. An Open Prison is where inmates who are deemed "not to be at risk to the community" are housed. We understand that a site on the outskirts of Audlem has been earmarked. In a bid to reduce costs the Government have agreed to accept sponsorship for the project, similar to Ford Open Prison in West Sussex, which is sponsored by the well-known car manufacturer.
The prison will provide work opportunities including horticulture, vocational work in workshops as well as opportunities for long-term prisoners to work in the community on rehabilitative and reparation work. Education provision will include a wide range of courses that enable prisoners to gain key vocational and academic qualifications. In addition, specialist services will provide assistance for a range of job preparation and seeking activities, assistance to find accommodation, debt counselling, drug and alcohol counselling and programmes and support for all prisoners regardless of their length of sentence.
When contacted by Audlem Online, Home Office spokesperson, Flair Pool, stated that Audlem had been chosen because of its clear emphasis on the community. She said that "as Audlem was the national winner of DEFRA's Building Community Life competition in 2005, it was a logical place to site an Open Prison where prisoners could easily wean their way back into the community. In addition, events such as Proms in the Park, the Festival of Transport and the Music and Drama Festival provide opportunities for the prisoners to witness cultural activities at first hand after so long inside jail."
There is much speculation as to which company will be selected to sponsor the project. Front runners include McDonald's, who are also proposing to build a drive-thru restaurant alongside and Ikea, whose database is understood to show massive numbers of customers living in Audlem.
If McDonald's are successful, the prison will probably be known as the McStir, whereas if it's sponsored by Ikea, it's likely to be called Skinnskatteberg.
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