PCC criticises prison closure

Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has criticised a decision by the Ministry of Justice to close Dorchester Prison.

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Dorset Police Commissioner's dismay at prison closure

I am disappointed and dismayed with the Justice Secretary’s decision to close HMP Dorchester. Only six weeks ago, we welcomed the decision to designate HMP Dorchester as a resettlement prison for the county’s offenders. It would have allowed us to support the rehabilitation of offenders back into the local community and to reduce incidents of reoffending.

I am concerned that this decision will have a negative impact on the county’s ability to proactively work with partners to rehabilitate offenders. It will also impact on future opportunities in restorative justice which provides insight to offenders on the impact of their crime whilst giving control back to victims.

I will be writing to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to express my dismay at his decision and will be lobbying the government for clarity around future resettlement arrangements for Dorset in light of this decision."

– Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner

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Work to close prison will begin 'immediately'

The Ministry of Justice said work to close HMP Dorchester will begin immediately and it is expected to shut close at the end of the year.

Everything will be done to avoid compulsory redundancies and our intention is for all staff to be redeployed to alternative roles in the prison estate or, if necessary, offered the opportunity to leave on voluntary terms.

Offenders housed at Dorchester will be moved to other suitable prison accommodation.

Decision to shut prison 'not taken lightly'

This decision was not taken lightly and is in no way a reflection of the hard work and commitment of staff, nor of the prison’s performance.

However, we cannot shy away from the fact that funds are limited and we need to make sure we are running prisons as efficiently as we can to maximise value for the taxpayer.

This will clearly be a difficult time for everyone involved and we will do all we can to offer support and ensure the prison continues to operate safely and securely in the run-up to closure.”

– Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright

Dorchester prison to shut

Dorchester Prison. Credit: Chris Ison/PA

The Ministry of Justice has announced the closure of Dorchester Prison.

It is part of the Government's prison modernisation programme to replace old and outdated estates.

A planned new 2,000 place prison will be built in Wrexham.

A feasibility study has started on a second large prison to be constructed in the South East of England.

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