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Last inmates leave Reading Prison

It's stood in the centre of Reading for almost 170 years housing thousands of prisoners, most famously, Oscar Wilde, but today the final inmates left Reading Prison.

Now a young offenders institute, the prison on Forbury Road can hold up to 320 men up to the age of 26.

But two months ago the Government said it was no longer fit for purpose and will close.

Today's shut-down has come a month early - and is a complete mistake according to the prison officers union.

Mel Bloor reports.

(Interviewees: Rob Wilson MP, Reading East, Conservative and Steve Gillan, Prison Officers Association General Secretary.)

Reading prison closing today, a month early

Reading prison is to close today, a month earlier than planned.

It is one of four prisons shutting under government plans to replace them with a super-prison.

The last of the 320 inmates at the Berkshire jail will be leaving later today.

The Prison Service said it was aiming to avoid compulsory redundancies by redeploying staff or offering voluntary early departures.


A taste of life behind bars

It's an experience most of us try to avoid, but hundreds of people have taken up the rare opportunity to get a taste of life behind bars.

They were on a series of guided tours around Kingston Prison in Portsmouth which closed earlier this year. What impression did they get of what it would have been like for the inmates? Richard Jones was there to find out.

Swindon drugs gang jailed

Gang leader Fatos Hamzaraj was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment
Gugliemo Rossi was sentenced to 6 years in prison
Paul Boulton was sentenced to 8 years in jail

Four other men were also sentenced for drug offences in 2011 in connection with the seven-man gang.

Wiltshire Police have confirmed the estimated street value of the drugs at £250,000. After testing the cocaine seized, it was found to have a 97% purity so the figure could be significantly higher.

Michael Crossley was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment
Christopher Peter Hemming was jailed for 6 years
Paul Matthew Bunney was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment
Jack Bowen Jones was sentenced to 3 years in jail

Prison praised for 'major improvements' after riots

There were riots at HMP Ford in 2011

Prison inspectors have praised staff at a jail in Sussex for making major improvements after riots in 2011.

Officers found that the relationship between detainees and guards at Ford open prison has greatly improved. However they also found some single cells used for two prisoners were too small.

The jail holds 500 male inmates. Publishing the report of an announced inspection of the open prison, Nick Hardwick - the Chief Inspector of Prisons said:

"Managers and staff at Ford are to be congratulated on turning round the prison after deep-seated concerns were exposed by a serious disturbance.

"This is still work in progress but HMP Ford now compares well with other open prisons. Overall, it provides a safe and decent environment, where prisoners are kept busy with good quality activity.

"Work to help prisoners resettle successfully after they are released and reduce the risk that they will reoffend has also improved, but these remain the areas where most still requires to be done."

Police recapture prisoner

A prisoner who failed to return to Blantyre House prison in Goudhurst in Kent has been arrested.

Police had appealed for information about the whereabouts of Vincent Saywell, who had failed to return to the prison after being released on temporary licence.

He was arrested in Plymouth on suspicion of being unlawfully at large and is now in police custody.


Police hunt for convicted robber who fails to return to prison

Keith Cockerton has been missing since 8pm on Saturday night Credit: Kent Police

The public are being warned not to approach a convicted robber who has failed to return to prison.

28-year-old Keith William Cockerton has been missing since 8 pm on Saturday 11 August when he didn't arrive back at Blantyre House Prison near Goudhurst in Kent.

Cockerton is serving an indeterminate sentence for Robbery and was on Community Release.

He is described as white, 5ft 10in tall with shaved ginger hair. He was last seen wearing a baby pink coloured polo shirt and powder blue shorts.

The public are being warned not to approach him but to report any sightings of his whereabouts to Kent Police.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Benjamin Turner on 101.

Broadmoor to get £298 million revamp

Broadmoor, pictured in 1980 Credit: PA

A high security hospital in Berkshire that houses some of the country's most dangerous criminals has been branded ‘not fit for purpose’ and facilities are being upgraded for patients and staff. The Department of Health is to invest £298 million in the Victorian site at Broadmoor Hospital.

Facilities at the hospital, which treats patients with some of the most challenging cases of psychiatric and mental health problems in the country, will be improved "to make sure that patients have access to the right treatment in a secure and safe environment"

The investment of £298 million follows the Commission for Health Improvement report in 2003, which concluded that “the accommodation at Broadmoor Hospital is no longer fit for the delivery of modern mental health services”.

Police hunt missing prisoner in Sussex

Raymond Atkins has gone missing in Sussex Credit: Kent Police

An inmate from a prison in Goudhurst has gone missing in Sussex.

Raymond Atkins, 39, was given home leave for family reasons but breached the conditions of his licence by not staying in the hostel allocated to him in Brighton.

He was last known to be in St Georges Road, Hastings at the end of June.

He is described as white European, of medium build, 5ft 8in tall with brown eyes and dark cropped hair. He has piercings in his left ear.

Members of the public are advised not to approach him.

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