Report claims ageing Dorchester Prison could close
Dorchester Prison may be vulnerable following a claim that five more prisons are to shut.
A source told the BBC that a programme of more prison closures is expected to continue next year, with an announcement next January.
The claim follow’s Thursday’s announcement that six “old and uneconomic” prisons, including those at Gloucester and Shepton Mallet, are to close by the end of March.
Asked about further closures, the Government said it would be looking for other “opportunities to modernise our custodial estate and drive down costs”.
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The five jails have not been revealed.
Dorchester, a category B remand prison, was built around 1880. Exeter Prison was built in 1850.
Three hundred officers and 200 other prison staff will be affected by the closure of Gloucester and Shepton Mallet jails.
John Hancock, Prison Officers Association National Executive Committee member for the South West, said: “It’s extremely disappointing that Gloucester and Shepton Mallet are to close.
“We understand there will be no compulsory redundancies but if people want to keep a job they’ll have to work at another prison and be within an hour’s travel of it.
“If Dorchester and Exeter were to close there wouldn’t be any other positions for the staff involved to move to. I think over the next 20 years there’ll be more and more private-sector prisons. We believe that morally it’s right for the public sector to provide the funds to look after prisoners, who have been sentenced by the State.”
Privately-managed Ashfield Young Offenders Institution near Yate in South Gloucestershire is to become an adult male prison.
The Ministry of Justice is also planning to build a new super prison with 2,000 places in London, North West England or North Wales.