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Minister opens new prison at Jurby 23 April 2008

MINISTER for Home Affairs Martyn Quayle MHK today (Wednesday) opened the Island’s new £41.7 million prison at Jurby.

Prior to unveiling a commemorative plaque at the official ceremony, Mr Quayle said the 138-cell facility represented ‘the dawning of a new era in the provision of secure custody in the Isle of Man.’

He added:

‘Through skilful management the prison has been delivered within budget, utilising Island knowledge, labour and materials wherever possible. ‘Everything that could be procured locally has been — and the result is a facility of which the Isle of Man can be justifiably very proud.’

The official opening marked the conclusion of one of the Island’s largest ever capital projects and Mr Quayle paid tribute to everybody who had contributed to its success.

The development of a new prison was first mooted in the late 1980s when it became clear that the Victoria Road jail had reached the end of its useful life. The Victorian facility was hailed as being among the best in the British Isles when it opened in 1891, but by the end of the 20th Century it was struggling to cope with the Island’s increasing prison population.

The construction of a replacement jail remained on the political agenda until Tynwald gave its backing to construct the Jurby facility in 2005. Dalrymple Associates was appointed as project manager for the new prison and main contractor, O’Hare and McGovern (Isle of Man) Limited, started work in August 2005. Practical completion of the works was certified by the architect Niall McGarrigle, of McGarrigle and Jackson, on Friday, January 25, 2008, and prison service officers assumed full control of all movements into and out of the new prison on January 29, 2008.

The facility will become fully operational in the near future when inmates are transferred from Victoria Road to Jurby — the first time the Island’s entire prison population has been moved since 1891. The modern Category B facility at Jurby features six wings fanning out from a central atrium, with 138 cells compared with 92 at Victoria Road in Douglas.

Specialist items that could not be supplied locally were shipped in from off-Island manufacturers, but a significant part of the overall contract was placed with Manx companies. The 5.2 metre high external perimeter security wall was constructed from cast concrete panels manufactured by a supplier located on the Jurby industrial estate.

Mechanical and electrical work was undertaken by a consortium of local contractors named Mannmec — a joint venture comprising Quiggin and Cubbon Ltd, Easthope and Cubbon Ltd and Arden and Druggan Ltd who came together specifically for this project. The design and construction has incorporated environmentally and ecologically friendly elements wherever practicable and much of the site has been landscaped to reduce the visual impact on the surrounding area.

Construction of the new prison required:

• Approximately 553,851 site man-hours • 7,679 cubic metres of concrete • 1,028 tonnes of steel • 21,216 square metres of block-work • 7,571 square metres of flooring • 8,729 metres of underground ductwork and drainage • 16,370 litres of paint • 168 cameras • 68 Atlas locks (electrical type) • 800-plus normal locks • 138 single cells

All this will help the new prison to provide substantially improved health, fitness, training, behavioural and educational resources that will play a crucial role in the rehabilitation of prisoners. The development also represents much-needed investment in the north of the Island and provides significant employment as no fewer than 130 operational staff will be employed at the prison.

The prison has proved to be the catalyst for the regeneration of Jurby and is evidence of a capital project drawing together numerous government developments for the benefit of the local community. More than this the new facility will boost the Isle of Man’s international standing regarding the treatment of prisoners in its care. Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author of Crime and Punishment, is credited with observing in the late 19th Century that: ‘The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.’

And declaring the new prison open, Mr Quayle concluded:

‘I trust that when 2,400 members of the public take the opportunity to attend the prison open days that they will feel proud that we have provided a facility that equals the standard of any modern prison and that the Isle of Man can walk tall in the eyes of the world.’

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