Wales 'should have women's prison' - First Minister
5:40pm Monday 14th January 2013 in Gwent news
WALES should have its own jail for women, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.
Females represent just 5% of the overall prison population, with the total population standing at around 4,000.
But Welsh women serving jail terms - either while on remand or serving custodial terms - have to do so across the border in England.
The lack of a prison in Wales has long been an area of concern for family members as well as penal charities.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Jones welcomed news that North Wales was one of three candidate sights for a so-called new "super prison’’ but would like to see a women's jail too.
He said: "People who are sentenced to custodial sentences in North Wales are often placed in prisons a long way away from where their families are and that's no good for them in terms of their rehabilitation.
"So, we are very supportive of the idea of a new prison being built in North Wales.
"It could have a significant potential for job creation.
"But there are no places for women in custody in Wales.
"I think a women's prison and a new prison in north of Wales are both needed.’’ Previously, it has been claimed that Welsh women prisoners face isolation and neglect because they are "forced’’ to serve time in English prisons.
Most Welsh female prisoners on remand will be detained at HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, while those serving longer sentences are usually sent as far afield as Derby or Surrey.
Concerns about this have been raised in the past by Wales' Archbishop Dr Barry Morgan, who said family members had to endure difficult and expensive journeys for what were short visits.
Following a prison visit to Eastwood Park in 2009, the Archbishop said: "It seems very strange that I have to go across the border, and out of the province of Wales, in order to visit women prisoners from Wales.’’