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Tory leader ups the ante on prisons

M&E contractors are seeing a boom in business as both major parties commit to expanding prison provision.

Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to create 5,000 extra prison spaces by 2014, on top of 15,000 already proposed by the Government.

The plan comes hot on the heels of the Government’s decision to build so-called ‘Titan jails’ to cope with a steadily growing prison population.

It has not been decided if the Titan jails will be built under the existing framework with the National Offender Management Service, part of the Ministry of Justice or using the PFI model. Either way, the plans will lead to significant m&e work for specialist contractors.

Last month, Skerritt won contracts worth £18.2 million to supply services at prisons in Nottingham and Kent. Managing director, Stuart Hill told H&V News: “We are seeing a boom, there is clearly a long term need there. It’s an ambitious plan, but we reckon if the main contractors can build the prisons, the building services industry is up to the challenge of fitting them out.

“The m&e component is fairly big, we’ve recently completed prison work and the building services can account for 20–30 per cent of the build cost.”

He added that the new phase of building presents an opportunity for using sustainable products, such as ground source heat pumps. He argued that as prisons will be built in rural areas more space will be available for such innovations.

Mr Hill also stressed the importance of modular offsite work in prison building, saying that much of the build can be completed in factory, especially work on cells.