§ Mr. Bob Russell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment exercises his Department has conducted into the possibility of establishing a prison in the Colchester constituency during the past five years. 
§ Joyce Quin
The Prison Service has had a long standing interest in developing a new prison in the east London/Essex area. This will provide new prison places to meet the population increases now being projected and help reduce the overcrowding currently being experienced within London prisons, to which large numbers of young offenders and adult prisoners from the Essex area are sent.
A number of sites in the east London/Essex area have been looked at by the Prison Service in recent years. One site in the Colchester area was investigated some two years ago, but was considered too small for a prison development.
Another possible site in Colchester has been recently drawn to the attention of the Prison Service. This is now being assessed, but it is too early to say whether it will prove suitable to be pursued further.