Next month will ramp up campaign against prison expansions

Part of a year-long campaign aimed at pressing the government to switch away from its plans to build several mega-prisons, March will see both a global day of solidarity with Kevan Thakrar and a month of activity.

Community Action on Prison Expansion has called the broader initiative for next month, which is timed as a tribute to the life of Anna Campbell, an active anti-prison organiser who was killed by Turkish airstrike in Kurdish Syria.

The group is hoping to organise a wide variety of actions across the country, following on from this month’s upcoming noise demo at HMP/YOI Bronzefield – Europe’s largest women’s prison.

Three prisons in particular are being campaigned on by the group:

  • WELLINGBOROUGH: A new mega-prison for 1,600 people built by the Kier Group. After several delays, construction began this winter.
  • LEICESTERSHIRE: A new facility on the site of HMP Glen Parva that will also lock up 1,600 people. Construction began this winter and is being led by Interserve.
  • EAST YORKSHIRE: A complex in East Yorkshire that has now been supersized from 1,000 to 1,600 people. This project is still in the planning stages and as many objections as possible are needed to slow it down.

Beyond the three main facilities, six new “community” prisons are in process, now called “‘residential centres”, for women. And a further mega-capacity single detention centre is planned following the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Outside England, there is to be a new prison wing in Nigeria. In Scotland, the State is planning a new mega-prison in Glasgow, a new prison in the Highlands and a series of small women’s prisons across the country. They are also exploring plans to build a prison for people of non-binary gender.

Finally, 2019 will also birth a new network of Children’s prisons, labelled ‘secure schools’, with the first out for tender this spring. In a statement, CAPE wrote:

Prisons are places of harm and suffering that target the most oppressed and marginalised in society. Stopping these projects means life or death for those who will die in their walls from suicide or neglect. They solve no social problems and only perpetuate poverty, class inequality, racism, sexism, transphobia, and xenophobia.

This year of action aims to escalate resistance to these projects. We ask that autonomous groups and individuals feel inspired to take their own action against the prison profiteers. We encourage the establishment of local groups and the involvement of existing groups to build power to put a halt to these projects and fight the prison society that has enabled them.