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  1. ITV Report

Justice Secretary suggests Pentonville prison could close

Pentonville prison opened in 1842. Photo: PA

The Justice Secretary Michael Gove has suggested that prisons that were built in Victorian times such as Pentonville could be closed.

In a speech given at the Prisoners Learning Alliance, he highlighted the problems at the Islington jail which were listed in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

A Victorian institution opened in 1842 which is supposed to hold 900 offenders now houses 1300. Not only are measures to reduce drug-taking among prisoners admitted with an addiction unsuccessful overall, nearly one in ten previously clean prisoners reported that they acquired a drug habit while in Pentonville.

– Michael Gove MP, Justice Secretary
Michael Gove has been in the Justice role for two months. Credit: PA

Mr Gove, who took over the Justice post in May, said he was still getting into the role. But he suggested closing down the Victorian prisons and selling off the estate could provide a solution.

That’s why I think we have to consider closing down the ageing and ineffective Victorian prisons in our major cities, reducing the crowding and ending the inefficiencies which blight the lives of everyone in them and building new prisons which embody higher standards in every way they operate. The money which could be raised from selling off inner city sites for development would be significant. It could be re-invested in a modern prison estate where prisoners do not have to share overcrowded accommodation but also where the dark corners that facilitate bullying, drug-taking and violence could increasingly be designed out.

– Michael Gove MP, Justice Secretary