MoJ bills increase as RAAC found in more prisons

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) has been found in two more prisons, with the Ministry of Justice expecting to spend around £900,000 on remediation.

The collapse-risk concrete has now been identified in HMP Leyhill, a category D prison in Gloucestershire, as well as HMP Parkhurst, a category B premises that is part of HMP Isle of Wight, according to an official response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Construction News.

In its response, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) also revealed that the estimated cost of remediating RAAC in prisons in England and Wales is £900,000, although the figure is likely to change as design and evaluation work has not been completed.

A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, which is part of the MoJ, said: “As part of our ongoing  survey of the prison estate, RAAC has been identified in utility buildings at HMPs Leyhill and Parkhurst. There is no impact on capacity at either site and the two buildings have been closed to make any necessary repairs.”

The crumbly post-war material was found in a locker room at HMP Leyhill, an open prison where 65 per cent of inmates have been convicted of sexual offences.

It was also discovered in a workshop at HMP Parkhurst, but the workshop had already been out of use for two years while it awaited maintenance.

CN revealed in December the first two English prisons found to contain RAAC – HMPs Onley and Portland.

Mark Fairhurst, national chairman of prison-staff trade union the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “We want to know how thorough the building inspections have been and if [the government] is going to release a report into the inspection.

“If they’re keeping buildings open where RAAC has been found, what is being done to ensure the safety of everyone working in that building?”

Minister for prisons Edward Argar did not say whether his department had plans to publish information on RAAC in prisons, when asked in a written question in November.

Argar also told Parliament earlier this month that all young-offender institutions had been surveyed for RAAC and none had been found.

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