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Police commissioner: Give us assurance over future of prisons
CRIME commissioner Martyn Underhill has written to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling over the future of Guys Marsh prison.
Mr Underhill also wants the Ministry of Justice to reclassify either HMP Guys Marsh or Portland as a resettlement prison following the announcement that HMP Dorchester is to close.
Although Mr Underhill accepts Dorchester is an ageing prison, he describes the announcement to close it as being ‘badly handled’ by the justice department.
In a strongly worded letter to the Justice Secretary he also asks: “I now seek assurance that HMP Guys Marsh and/or Portland are named as our resettlement prison(s).”
HMP Dorchester, one of four UK prisons recently announced to close, looks likely to shut by the end of this year.
However, there are concerns about the future as Dorchester was the only Ministry of Justice classified resettlement prison in Dorset.
The government aims to eventually hold around 50,000 short-term sentenced offenders in resettlement prisons, where supervised programmes are tailored to inmates in a bid to ease their transition to the outside world.
Prisoners serving longer sentences will be moved to resettlement prisons closer to their release dates.
The idea is to ensure the majority of offenders are released from prisons close to the areas they will eventually live.
Mr Underhill said the closure of Dorchester ‘effectively means that Dorset now has no resettlement prison in its own geographical area’.
He added: “Most people would consider this as bizarre, when we house more prison estate than most counties.
“I cannot stress enough that I campaigned on the rehabilitation banner. I am passionate about breaking the cycle with ‘through the gate’ services, and I cannot achieve this if I am commissioning services remotely in another county.”
HMP Guys Marsh, near Shaftesbury, opened as a borstal in 1960, before becoming a young offender’s institution. In 2008 the young inmates were moved out and it became an adult prison.
Although Portland is a young offender’s institution it does take adult category C prisoners, with sentences no longer than eight years.
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