Prisons minister opens Skanska-built HMP Thameside extension

Press release 20/03/2015 09:45 CET

Andrew Selous MP, Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation, has opened the new extension at HMP Thameside, which is designed and built by Skanska, and managed and operated by Serco for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). 

Andrew Selous MP, Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation (centre) officially commissions the Skanska-built extension at Thameside prison, along with employees from the facility

The extension, officially commissioned yesterday (19 March), contains a house block that will accommodate up to 332 prisoners in 216 cells. A flexible activity centre with 10 workshop units will provide training in skills such as printing and textiles. In total, the prison, also built by Skanska, is able to hold up to 1,232 prisoners, but will normally operate with a maximum of 900 prisoner places.

Skanska has completed the £34 million extension on time and to budget, on behalf of client Serco, working for the Ministry of Justice. The first prisoners will be accepted into it in April this year. 

The prisons minister said: “I welcome this new wing at Thameside, which is part of our commitment to delivering modern, fit-for-purpose prison accommodation that provides better value for the taxpayer. We have been clear that we will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts. That is why this government has increased the adult male prison capacity from the level inherited at the end of the last Parliament.”

John Biggin, Serco’s Director at HMP Thameside, said, “The new extension will enable us to increase the variety of skills and qualifications that prisoners can develop in preparation for their release and will enhance their ability to find meaningful employment in the community. Thameside is making good progress after a challenging start and everyone here knows that we still have much to do. The new facilities will make an enormous contribution to the work that we do with our partners in reducing re-offending.”

Skanska managing director Terry Elphick said: “Skanska has used its expertise and knowledge of working on the original HMP Thameside project over several years to design and build this modern, secure extension, which we hope will help prisoners and staff to live and work safely. The project highlights the relationship we enjoy with Serco and Ministry of Justice.”

HMP Thameside first opened in March 2012. Located adjacent to HMP Belmarsh and HMP Isis in southeast London, it is a purpose-built local prison serving several east London courts. The prison currently holds up to 900 Category B prisoners; approximately 50% on remand and 50% sentenced prisoners. It can also accommodate un-sentenced male young offenders. The extension will enable the prison to provide a resettlement unit, preparing prisoners for release. 

The most recent report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons highlighted that the prison has made ‘considerable progress since the last inspection in January 2013 with improvements evident across all four of the healthy prison tests and was now arguably one of the better local prisons in the capital’.