The Prison Service is in talks with Dover District Council to use Connaught Barracks as an open prison, following agreement in principle with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The new open prison will house around 200 prisoners initially who have been risk assessed as suitable for open conditions. There is no intention to hold sex offenders there. The Prison Service anticipates utilising the open prison for around five years. Prison Service staff will run the prison although further recruitment is likely to be necessary. It is anticipated that prisoners will be arriving towards the end of the year. The accommodation at Connaught has been identified as suitable for conversion to prison use, and has only recently been decommissioned by the MOD. The premises are already secure and a planning application for change of use is not required. The Prison Service has already increased prison capacity by over 4,000 in the last two years including building additional places at existing prisons and the return to use of accommodation as well as the construction of two new prisons. The extra spaces provided by the barracks will relieve pressure on prisons whilst we continue to look at other options to expand the prison estate in the short term. I wonder how long this was in the planning?