Prisoners from Hertfordshire will serve their final months in custody in HMP The Mount in Bovingdon, as part of plans to rehabilitate criminals closer to where they live.

The Mount used to be earmarked as a resettlement prison for criminals from London, while Hertfordshire offenders were placed in a jail in Suffolk.

The decision, which comes from the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, has been welcomed by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s chief constable, Andy Bliss, who said it is a positive step towards re-integrating criminals into the county once they are released.

Chief constable Bliss, who is chair of the Hertfordshire Criminal Justice Board, said: "We already have an excellent operational relationship with the governor and his team at The Mount Prison.

"It is therefore great news that The Mount will become Hertfordshire’s resettlement prison as it means that there is a greater chance that offenders from Hertfordshire can be offered targeted training and support whilst in prison with a programme focused on their re-integration into the local community upon release.

"The hope is that their offending will stop or be significantly reduced upon release as a result of the support they receive. Where this is not the case we shall be making it clear to prisoners that our focus will be on bringing them to justice.

"We want prisoners to make positive choices about their future behaviour - where they don’t, the potential consequences on release will be clear."

The move means that local agencies that deal with criminals in the county will have improved access to Hertfordshire prisoners before their release date, meaning that their transition from incarceration to the outside world can be better planned and supported.

Steven Bradford, governor at HMP The Mount, said: "In future, the prison will be able to better protect the local population in Hertfordshire from re-offending by former prisoners, by properly preparing them before their release into the community.

"This will be achieved by working much more closely with local agencies in resettling offenders."

Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, David Lloyd, said he has been working with organisations such as the police, councils, charities and criminal justice partners to encourage the Ministry of Justice to help secure The Mount for Hertfordshire.

Commissioner Lloyd said: "This is an excellent result for Hertfordshire. Getting prison leavers properly reintegrated back into the community is the best thing that can be done to stop them offending again.

"Housing, education, work and strong community ties are paramount as they can help steer ex-offenders away from a life of crime. Meanwhile, the authorities will also be better able to keep tabs on those prison leavers who are determined to go back to criminality."