The new Vantaa Prison replaces Helsinki Remand Prison
The transfer of the functions of Helsinki Remand Prison (former Helsinki County Prison) to more modern premises has in various occasions been under consideration since the beginning of the last century. The first prison was built on the present site in 1749. The present prison building dates back to 1888.
The project concerning the building of a new prison proceeded in 1977 so that City of Vantaa assigned a site for the construction of the prison. Next year the Council of State made a policy decision on the matter. Due to various reasons, the beginning of the construction was delayed until the turn of the century.
The prison was planned already in the 80’s, but as the project got delayed, the plans were redrawn in the middle of the 90’s. Altered needs led to considerable changes in the original plans.
The contract agreements of the building project were finally signed on the 27.4.2000, and the construction work started in May 2000. The builder is Senate Estates to whom the estates of the Prison Administration were transferred from the beginning of 2001.
Vantaa Prison replaces Helsinki Remand Prison in Katajanokka which is in a poor condition. It will incarcerate remand prisoners and, in addition, also answer for the prisoners’ transport in the Metropolitan area.
The scope of the project is 15 421 gross square meters and the total cost estimate is € 28,1 million. The main constructor is Skanska Etelä-Suomi Oy. For the the plumming contract, Tekmanni Oy was chosen, for the ventilation Ilmatuote Oy, for the electric and telecommunications installations Amplit Oy and for the construction automation work Honeywell Oy. As the building consult functions Engel Oy and for the architectural design has been the responsibility of the Architect Office Arcadia Oy.
The new prison was established by the decree of the Council of State, coming into force from the first of March 2002. The adoption of the prison has been prepared in a planning group nominated by the Ministry of Justice whose task has been to see to the functional and personnel planning connected to the adoption of the new prison.
The premises were received from the constructor at the end of February 2002, and immediately after that the furnishing and other necessary measures for the adoption were started. The actual moving and transfer of prison functions from Katajanokka to the new premises will be realised at the turn of March-April. The spring 2002 is a transfer period in the sense that all activities in Helsinki Remand Prison should be terminated in May at the latest and the remand prison will be abolished since the first of June 2002. The Senate Estates is responsible for the further use of the remaining premises after the prison functions have ceased.
The establishing of a new prison is a part of the Prison Administration’s new construction and renovation programme. The new institution enables the carrying out of prison work in appropriate premises, fulfilling general norms from the point of view both the staff and the prisoners. Constructional solutions, efficient departments and modern security and control techniques ensure the enforcement of remand imprisonment and the appropriate execution of pre-trial investigation. ‘
The new institution is located in Vantaa, the suburb of Itä-Hakkila. The prison will have 158 prisoner places, out of which 19 for women. In addition, it has transport cells, isolation cells and 15 places for patients in the psychiatric ward. There will be all in all 225 beds in the prison. Through the prison, some 5000 prisoners are going to pass annually. The average time spent in the prison is between two and three months. The period of remand imprisonment may last form a few days up to one and half years.
The major part of the prison consists of men’s units. Dwelling quarters are in accordance with the building legislation: the size of the cells is 10 square meters and they are equipped with toilet and washing facilities. Instead of bars, the windows have armour-glass. In their cells the prisoners have the prison’s television and video, which reduces the need for inspection activity and promotes security.
The work shops and sports hall of the prison are located in a separate building which is connected with a subterranean passage to the main building. Smaller activity rooms are also located in the connection of the departments. There is a lot of space for outdoor exercise, two of these courtyards have been built on the roof of the dwelling quarters for reasons of isolation
The prisoners have also a library at their disposal and various facilities for hobbies, education and physical exercise. When organising the functions of the prison, the starting point has not only been the prerequisites set by remand imprisonment but also the variety and appropriateness of the prison functions. The premises enable both training for working life and the beginning of intoxicant rehabilitation already at the stage of remand imprisonment.
Special attention has been paid in the institution to the aspects of security. It will accommodate a five-place unit for so called specially placed inmates. The securing of the pre-investigation and other security aspects and on the other hand, the facilitating of the rest of the functions require that the institution is adequately divided into units and that the units vary in their openness. The pre-investigation often presupposes the separation of the remand prisoners, and this is easily arranged in the new institution.
Also the security technology of the institution is of a high standard. The prison is surrounded by a six meters high concrete wall and it has on its both sides five meters high wire net fences to protect the space besides the wall.
In the prison, room has also been reserved for the district court sessions. Vantaa district court is willing to have some of its sessions in the prison. This reduces the need for transport and relieves staff for other functions.
For the staff moving to a modern prison means a considerable improvement in their working conditions. The staff replacement in the new institution is done by internal transfers. The present staff of Helsinki Remand Prison is transferred to the new prison entirely. In addition, some posts are transferred from other institutions. The numeber of staff will be around 150.