Work on the Lo Wu prison redevelopment has begun as part of correctional services' efforts to ease overcrowding in women's facilities. The existing institution, which has a capacity for 182 prisoners, will be razed and replaced with three new prisons on the site, at a cost of HK$1.37 billion. Preparation work began on April 2, and demolition of the existing buildings will start in May and continue until early next year. The new prisons are expected to be completed by December 2009 and will start receiving inmates in 2010. The new prisons will accommodate 1,400 prisoners. The 76,940 square metre site will include two medium security prisons for 400 prisoners each and one minimum security facility for 600 inmates. The Legislative Council's Finance Committee granted funding for the prison redevelopment last June. Mostly women will be housed at the new prison, although Correctional Services Department officials have said that flexible designs would be used so facilities could house male inmates if necessary. Research into prison populations worldwide last year revealed that the city has the highest proportion of female prisoners in the world. Latest figures released by the department show women's prisons house 2,006 inmates - almost 13 per cent over capacity. There are more than 11,000 prisoners in the city. Last year, the Lai Chi Kok Correctional Institution was extended to provide an additional 650 places. Other prisons are also facing redevelopment, partly to ease overcrowding, but also to upgrade their facilities. Commissioner of Correctional Services Kwok Leung-ming has said 10 of the city's 24 prisons are more than 40 years old and need revamping. He has described Lo Wu's new role as a 'mini-centralised prison'. After Lo Wu, the next jail to get a facelift will be Chi Ma Wan on Lantau. The Lo Wu Saddle Club stables would move from its current site in November to make room for part of the new prison, staff at the club said.