Expansion work starts at Isle of Sheppey prison

The Ministry of Justice has approved the start of work to build a fully-electric cell block as part of the expansion of Elmley prison in Kent.

The work to expand the category B and C male prison on the Isle of Sheppey will add an extra 247 prison places.

The building work, to be carried out by Kier Group, will also include a new prisoner workshop and an extension of the existing kitchen facilities.

Kier managing director Anthony Irving said: "The project will not only deliver additional prison places but improve the overall estate at HMP Elmley."

Elmley currently consists of six units that hold about 1,150 prisoners, according to the Ministry of Justice.

There are units for vulnerable prisoners, foreign nationals, first night prisoners, drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

The expansion of the prison is part of a £500m accelerated development programme by the ministry.

The government has previously committed £4bn to increase prison capacity by 20,000 additional places by the mid-2020s.

According to government figures, the prison population stood at 88,220 as of 8 March. Operational capacity is just over 89,000.

Projections released by the government suggest that the prison population could reach 94,400 by March 2025 and between 93,100 and 106,300 by March 2027.

The Elmley development works are set to be complete by the end of 2026.

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