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Glyndŵr University launches public opinion survey on North Wales prison

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Public opinion on the impact of a new £250m super-prison in Wrexham is to be tracked before and after its construction in the first research project of its kind in the UK.

Glyndŵr University has launched a five-year project to determine whether there is any change in attitude towards the prison at Wrexham Industrial Estate, set to open in 2017.

Adopting a ‘before, during and after’ approach, researchers will initially attempt to chart reaction to the new build through interviews with key professionals and a public questionnaire documenting hopes and concerns for the project.

The survey, which will repeated at 18 month intervals, will track opinion on some of the most controversial issues associated with the prison, including its impact on the economy, traffic and crime levels.

These will be compared against data available once the prison has opened, such as statistics on crime and housing.

No survey has been produced to date documenting public attitudes over time towards a new prison in the UK, says Dr Iolo Madoc-Jones, principal lecturer in criminology and criminal justice at Glyndŵr University.

Dr Madoc-Jones, who is leading the research, said: “Despite everything that has been said, there is very little evidence about the impact new prison builds have on local communities.

“This research attempts to provide a database for informing local discussions on the prison. Moreover, over time, it will track the impact the prison actually has on Wrexham and thereby serve to keep to account those making the case for the prison.

“We will be especially interested in what the data, and local people tell us about the impact the prison has on house prices, employment, crime, access to health, transport and the local environment.”

A symposium at Glyndŵr University’s Catrin Finch Centre on Friday, January 30, revealed that Lend Lease, the company building the facility, expect the prison to provide 100 new apprenticeships and 500 work placement days per year.

The 120-acre site will house a football pitch, gym, sports hall, education block and 12 workshops.

Dr Madoc-Jones added: We’d like as many people as possible in Wrexham to fill in the questionnaire. The survey can be completed anonymously, but we are inviting people to indicate if they’re willing to engage with the study overtime and be contacted in the future and as the prison is established.”

To complete the survey visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wrexhamprison

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