PLANS have been shelved to retain dozens of temporary jail cells at a Warrington prison.

Plans had been submitted to Warrington Borough Council’s planning department for structures built at HM Prison Thorn Cross.

This was for the permanent retention of 44 temporary accommodation units at the prison and young offender institution in Appleton Thorn.

However, proposals by applicant the Ministry of Justice for the Arley Road category D prison, which opened in 1985, have now been withdrawn.

The units were constructed quickly in May 2020 to effectively respond to the impacts of Covid-19, for a temporary period of six months.

This was to prevent the spread of the virus and protect lives, with such cells built in prisons with the highest number of shared cells, where there was a lack of in-cell sanitation and where there were high numbers of vulnerable prisoners.

The cells were utilised for isolating prisoners, for those on day release as ‘vital keyworkers’ and to house prisoners that had tested positive for the virus.

Planning documents state: “It was initially assumed the cells would be in use for around 12 weeks, but it became apparent that Covid-19 would be around for a considerable time.

“His Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service worked to remove temporary accommodation cells from the estate as soon as they are no longer required.

“However, around 400 cells will remain in the estate, planning permission permitted, to help mitigate population pressures and to support the transition to the significant permanent capacity that will be delivered over the coming years.

“The units are of a high-quality design and built to a highly sustainable standard, located within the existing boundary of the prison.”