A NEW jail – housing 1,500 prisoners – could be built in West Yorkshire.
And Government officials admit it could be anywhere in the county, including Huddersfield.
They have launched a fresh search for sites on which to build new 1,500 place prisons for serious offenders, after being given the go-ahead by Justice Minister Maria Eagle MP.
News of the search by the Ministry of Justice comes after Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw announced plans in April to create 7,500 new prison places.
The National Offender Management Service, which runs prisons in England and Wales for the Ministry of Justice, will look across the country for sites to serve areas with greatest demand for prison places.
West Yorkshire has been named as one location, along with London, the North West and North Wales.
So far, plans for two new 1,500 place prisons have been announced - one on the site of the former Runwell Secure Psychiatric Hospital in Essex and one at Beam Park West, Dagenham.
West Yorkshire has several prisons, including Leeds and Wakefield and a women’s prison at Flockton.
Justice Minister Maria Eagle said: “Crime has fallen by more than a third since 1997, with 70% more violent and dangerous offenders locked up, and for longer.
“We have already created 25,000 additional prison places in the last 12 years and we are committed to providing sufficient prison places to hold serious and persistent offenders, who rightly should be behind bars.
“These new prisons will allow us to further modernise the estate. They will help protect the public and make communities safer by providing regimes to punish and reform offenders.
“Finding the most appropriate place for a new prison is of paramount importance. They should be located in those areas where there is the greatest need, areas where the greater number of prisoners come from”.
Once a site is identified, consultation with local MPs, local authorities and residents will be undertaken in order to achieve the most open and transparent process possible.