Shrewsbury Prison to be closed down

Shrewsbury prison is to close, the Ministry of Justice announced today as it unveiled plans to build a “super-prison”.

The iconic main entrance to Shrewsbury Prison.
The iconic main entrance to Shrewsbury Prison.

The Dana is one of six prisons in England being shut on April 1.

Prisons at Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston and Shepton Mallet will also close, while jails at Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight will see the number of their prisoners cut.

Some 2,600 offenders are held at the affected prisons.

Staff were told the bombshell news at 10am – the same time as it was announced nationally.

It was greeted with dismay by union leaders and politicians, who described the closure as a ‘huge blow’ for Shropshire and Mid Wales.

As part of a radical overhaul the Government today unveiled plans to build a new ‘super-prison’ holding more than 2,000 inmates. The new jail would be Britain’s largest and could be built in London, the North West or North Wales. The shake-up is part of a drive to scrap ageing prisons and cut costs by £63 million a year.

Shrewsbury prison, which was built in 1877, employs 207 members of staff looking after more than 300 inmates.

Sofia Kannas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said prisoners were to be transferred to other sites across the country by the end of March.

It was today unclear how many staff will lose their jobs but bosses say they are trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Staff will be invited to apply for a voluntary redundancy scheme.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed Shrewsbury, as well as prisons at Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston and Shepton Mallet, will close. Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight will see some accommodation reduced.

Mr Grayling said: “We have to bring down the cost of our prison system, much of which is old and expensive. But I never want the courts to be in a position where they cannot send a criminal to prison because there is no place available. ”

Shrewsbury Town Council leader Peter Nutting said today: “It will be a big blow to the town as it is a major employer.”

The Category C prison was revealed to be the second most overcrowded in England and Wales last summer.

Comments for: "Shrewsbury Prison to be closed down"

Bob

Good. I used to hang around there and found the inmates to be very antisocial. They never came out for a chat or a drink with me.

DogmanAl

+1000 internet points

ph7

The government is right to close essentially victorian prisons which have come to the end of their useful life. However, this is yet another blow to Shropshire's economy, not only jobs in the Prison service which will be lost but also the knock on effect tyo local companies who supply the prison.

flamenco red

I have heard from staff and support workers that Shrewsbury is civilised as such institutions go. What a shame.

Geoff

Having visited Shrewsbury Prison to address the prisoners' gay group, I can only echo your point. It is a very caring institution run by state-employed staff. I fear that this new 'super prison' will be run someone incompetent and uncaring like G4 (who screwed up the Olympics).

I also echo the points around local businesses who serve the prison.

And let's spare a thought for the effect on the staff who are losing their jobs - and with such short notice.

Roger

I agree with ph7. I think we should be making a serious effort to attract the super prison to Shropshire or at the least a block prison. We are at the centre of a paradigm of the locations being considered. We have the space and are attractive to incoming deployment as a good place to live. We also need to consider the difficulties involved in not having a prison in the county. or in Mid Wales for that matter. How will we consider the villains rights to visiting etc and remand to service our courts. I fully support the replacement of Shrewsbury prison as it is too old and too small but simply closing it is a step too far if the facility is not to be replaced.

ben

agree with that, it would be a BIG employer and ronud here is lots of land in isolated areas so if prisoners escape they wont get far will they so i say YES to shropshire super prison lets fine them a site and offer up the land for cheap it would be great for the area

Richard

I agree with a lot of the comments here in that Shropshire needs a prison to service the area should the prison at Shrewsbury close. It’s been on the cards to close Shrewsbury prison for years, so much so, back in 2009 the government proposed to build the UK’s first super prison at the 38 hectare former Allscott sugar beet factory site. I thought it was a great idea as all the staff at Shrewsbury Prison would have had the option to keep their job in addition to further 1000+ new jobs being created for Shrewsbury, Telford & rural Shropshire. However plans were apparently scrapped after a couple of local residents objected. How short sited of them and to be honest very selfish of them too, what impact would it ever have on them I don’t know, I myself have no problem living next to a prison!

ollie simms

Makes sense, financially this will be a massively valuable site for housing and it will make some lovely flats for rich folk and then the prisoners can go and live in a purpose built new prison, saving taxpayers money in the process, so everyones a winner really

Robin Hood

Losing a big employer and gaining a few new homes doesn't make sense for Shrewsbury - Shropshire is becoming increasingly provincial with fewer and fewer career opportunities for those of us that live here. First the sorting office, now this.

A vibrant town needs a mixture of housing, services and employment - Shrewsbury is becoming increasingly unbalanced. It's bad news for our town.

KB

What about all the staff losing jobs?

Darren

This great news, it's a blight on the town and a complete eyesore. This is welcome news for the town and one that many in Shrewsbury will support. Unforutnate about the jobs but hey it's the prison service and there are plenty of positions elsewhere, for a growing population of idiots who commit crime.

Just imagine what the council are thinking now....

'Lets turn it into apartments, shops and leisure facilities like the flax mill'

Yeah go ahead and waste more money on projects that are not even solid enough to forsee ever being completed. Personally it should be knocked down and turned into a park for the residents of Castlefields.

Dave

Unfortunately Darren these prison officers are unlikely to find another position as the "Prison Service" is cutting many many jobs I am an Officer and my own prison is cutting over 30 officers next year with more to be cut the following year..... we provide a very good service in difficult circumstances and its only getting harder and less safe for the staff and prisoners alike.

Merc

Surely it's got to be the prestigious new Shropshire Council HQ! Their current dubiously tendered building in Frankwell could then be demolished and a metal foundry built in it's place so we could get away from wretched 'services' and get back to making things - to sell - to grow our economy...

Roger

I have no doubt that many in Shropshire would like to see their Councilors housed in the Dana but it looks like we wont't have time for that now.

twiggo

Lots of prison staff are not prison officers" - they are maintenance staff, cleaners etc etc. And they are on the kind of wages that would make it financially impossible to relocate. More hard-working folks forced onto ever-decreasing state benefits.

Darren

The council offices at Frankwell were built and designed to be turned into apartments after the council has finished with them. This was purposely done so that they could then sell the building to a developer or property company thus making a pretty penny in the process. They would then simply relocate. How do I know this? I work for the council at the Frankwell offices. ;-)

AG

darren the building will remain its LISTED and its attractive in my opinion so a shame to loose the jobs and the inmates need feeding, washing etc, its all creating jobs for local suppliers, i think a prison is a wonderfully good asset for the town and we will all miss it

ben

its overcrowed by 200% anyway so should have closed on health and safety ground a long time ago frankly its sad for the area for jobs etc but for the prison service and the taxpayers who pay for it this is a sensible move we cant house prisoners in grade 2 listed mansion houses in the 21st century can we

Mark

Shrewsbury prison is not overcrowded so please be more positive about the fantastic work that the staff there do. Shrewsbury prison was updated years ago to hold more prisoners but the media just seems to hold on to the overcrowding story. Please be supportive.

peter bound

As a member of staff working here shrewsbury has been under the threat of closure for some time . We have always prided ourselves on providing a high performing prison and were regarded as one of the top performers in the prison estatej. This decision just proves the point that there is no such thing as loyalty to staff it is all based on saving money and not on results . Against all advice they are pursuing the building of titan super jails with a capacity for up to 2,000 inmates run by the private sector for as little as possible . you only have to look at the american system to realise this will not work and prisons should not be run as a profit running enterprise.

Peter

Hit the nail on the head there I think - the draconian 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' approach taken in the US doesn't seem to be reducing crime there. Addditionally it is valid to point out that this is as much about a privatisation as it is about buulding a new prison.

Private sector companies running prisons have a pretty chequered history - do we really want companies like G4S running more of our prisons?

As with the proposed probation service privatisation, this is about ladling yet more public money into private sector profits.

Matthew

What the policians have failed to notice is that whilst an older prison like Shrewsbury might be more expensive to maintain than some newer built prisons it is very solidly constructed whereas many of the newer prisons are basically temporary structures with a limited life. Any comparison of the running costs should also take account of the cost of replacing the buildings every 25 years.

helen

Another sad day for Shrewsbury- I send my sympathies to the staff at the prison.

Despite all its claims about localism, the government's decisions always seem to concentrate services in fewer and fewer, bigger and bigger facilities- hospitals, schools, Royal Mail and now prisons. And Shrewsbury's services always seem to be the 'surplus' ones that close. You can't have a thriving, vibrant town if the only jobs left there are in retail and tourism.

ironic...

I always thought it was odd having a prison next to a railway station. I doubt many escaped over it's time but surely giving them a quick way to get out of the town was never a clever prospect!

But on a more serious note, why on earth is Mr Nutting trying to intervene? I understand it's an employer iin the town but it is a Prison at the end of the day and it's location is bizarre in the middle of what now is housing and next to the Buttermarket.

I'm sure the people of the area do not want to have a Prison next door. Hopefully the staff will be helped to find other roles near though.

helen

ironic...

'I'm sure the people of the area do not want to have a Prison next door.'

Don't jump to conclusions- I'm one of the 'people of the area', and I don't want the prison to close. It is a good neighbour- printing Castlefields' community newsletter, helping to maintain the Dana footbridge until recently, and providing lots of decent jobs for the area. I'd much rather have the prison nearby than lose yet another employer from Shrewsbury.

ironic

Well, I didn't know that they were involved doing all that! Quite suprising really they'd be that involved in the community but good on them for doing it. As I said though, I do hope they're helped to find other positions in the system though and not just cast out into unemployment.

Geoff

I live in Castlefields, a stone's throw from the prison and I echo Helen's points.

Ricky

Is the goverment trying to shut down Shrewsbury completely, just take stock of what is being shut, we have the sorting office, the prison, and now the CPS looks like it is going to be cetralised at Birmingham. what next the Hospital and the Police Station?

Garry (ex inmate at HMP Shrewsbury)

Hi,

I was released from this prison in March 2012 after serving 10 months the first 3 months of my sentence was served at HMP Hewell and feel that this prison should be shut down other than Shrewsbury. I found the staff at HMP Shrewsbury to be very professional and approachable not like some of the staff I encountered at Hewell. The healthcare staff were very good at the jobs to. I agree that Shrewsbury was and is an old prison and the cells are freezing during the winter. However I also feel that a new prison built on the existing site would be a good prospect so that the wonderful staff at this establishment are kept together. May I send my best wishes to them all and hope that they will find alternative work elsewhere. Thanks for your kindness and humility shown to me in the time I was there. Garry

Robert B

So your the fella that I used to throuh things over the wall to....

Bob

No, that was me. Thanks for the help.

B.K.B.

This is a very foolish and mistaken decision. As a former Official Prison Visitor at the Dana I can affirm that it is a prison with a caring and committed staff who do their best in straitened circumstances to give humane treatment and prospects of rehabilitation to the inmates, who appreciate their efforts. The fact that it is a small establishment is a major factor in allowing this to occur.

Terry

Sorry to all the shrewsbury staff, its a hard job you do trying to keep prisoners, yourselves and the public safe, if only the public understood the problems with privately run prisons, good luck finding jobs

H. St. John Peasbody

Surely all prisons should be closed down? I favour the use of community rehabilitation programmes for lesser offences and execution for more serious crimes such as burglary, rape and murder.

Philip Clayton-smith

They say it will save 63million a year, how much is a new super prison cost, and where will it be,

I suppose most full time staff will be offered postings, with expenses, and older officers a pension pay off,

As for teaching to prevent reoffending in over my life time, I think prisons should be a place to pay for your crime, not a careers development establishment, and a body building centre,

don't get it!!

most prisons are overcrowded so close seven and overcrowd the rest!!! perfect sense.

The Watcher

Sad, but somewhat inevitable. I was able to leave the Prison Service after nearly 21 years service a couple of years ago as part of their drive to cut staff numbers and costs, and these closures have been mooted for some years. There will be more, I am sure. The notion of so called "super prisons" goes against previous initiatives to house prisoners in their home areas in order to facilitate visits and maintain home ties as part of their rehabilitation and this is little more than a drive to hand the service over to the private sector. Anyone with experience of privately run prisons will tell you that they do little to uphold the values and professionalism of the public sector run jails as their priority is in driving down cost and increasing profit. Coupled with the Government's "rehabilitation revolution", where voluntary organisations and charities will attempt to rehabilitate offenders, I honestly fear for society in the future. Good luck to all of the staff at Shrewsbury, whatever role you have played in its running.

Sue

I worked within the Healthcare dept for two years,and I can honestly say, you will never find a more dedicated, caring group of nurses, and prison officers. They treated every prisoner with respect no matter their crime. They were all truly professional at all times under very hard circumstances and abuse on a daily basis, and I feel very proud to say that I worked with such wonderful caring people. It is a very sad day for them all as they are like a very big family and always looked out for each other. My utmost respect to them all and I hope they will all find alternative employment. They all deserve a medal.

rikky

like Gary, i was also had lodgings there and found the staff very helpful, pity to lose it, but another idea they could use for it is put all the homeless people in there instead.

Stuart

I served at HMP Shrewsbury in the 1950s and at others as a senior officer. Those were the days when "prison" was "prison" and offenders (apart from those doing CT and PD) did not volunteer to go back. This move to close down prisons at a time when society is becoming more concerned over the "soft" Tory justice policies (a recent offender, found guilty of his 32nd offence was sent to prison for the first time) shows the deceit, lies, hypocracy and downright contempt that the Tories have for public opinion. No date has been given for the start of the new prisons (in other words they won't be built) and yet these named prisons are due to close within a couple of months, it is all a money saving exercise and also a craving for the Tories to shrug off their "nasty" image and show that they are, just like the Liberal Democrats, capable of wet, liberal, soft penal and judicial policies which show less of a genuine and pragmatic approach to crime and the treatment of offenders but more a government who don't give a hang for anything other than "politics" and how they can pave a better way to getting re-elected again next time. I have news for Cameron, this move is just one more stroke that with all the others will ensure that he is toast at the next election. Not one prison should be closed until such time as new ones, capable of accomodating more than what the prisons are now capable of holding are built and in operation. Cameron and his crew must surely be the worst government that this country has ever had. We had Clarke the worst Home Secretary ever who would have closed all our prisons down and now we have this man Grayling who makes out he is "tough", this is an example of his toughness - and his treachery. Just in case anyone doubts our soft penal policy, a recent rape of a 17 year old girl resulted in the offender being given 4 years in prison, of which, he will serve two years. Think on that ladies, think on that husbands, fathers, brothers etc, that is what this Tory lot have let us sink to. A "clockwork orange" society is already with us.

Stuart

Sorry, someone will pick me up, the sorry pair Clarke and Grayling were/are Justice Secretaries and not Home Secretaries as I said. Together with our illustrious Home Secretary however they are a sad trinity who insult every decent person in this country.

Debra

i would just like to say,i got married last august in shrewsbury prison.

Jay rich

The numbers published by the government don't even line up. The prisons they are looking at closing house 2600 inmates, the new 'super prison' houses 'more than 2000'. Surely the new prison needs to house more than 2600 for it to work. There is not enough room in prisons as it is so people are having there sentences suspended due to there being no room. Ridiculous.

JOHN JONES

A) Shrewsbury Prison is a listed building, so they are limited to what they can do with it.

B) Robert B, Yes there was a character called Derek Podmore who did just that, dressed as father Christmas in 1977 he climbed onto the top of the prison to throw cigarettes to the inmates,

C ) I had a friend George Riley who was hanged in the prison in 1961, and like the others before him were buried inside the prison in unmarked graves.

Kat de Gama

What about an official residence for our MP?

julie chidlow

hi there i think its very sad to hear the news of the prison inn shrewsbury is going as some of the other comments have said its not only the staff but those who surply to the prison who are going to suffer come on our shrewsbury mp lets get a potition and keep it open as it has been a land mark for a good while now lets keep it open i agree with a nother person if the goverment can spend money on a new train route which we dont need lets put that money in to this prison

danny p

more housing is needed but more than that shrewsbury needs JOBS, this will be a loss of an economic zone combined with Royal Mail which will delight the tories as it reduces the size of the public sector workforce in the town but for the real work private sector companies who supply these two vast economically crucial sites it will be painful, sure construction jobs will help for the first year but once the place is converted into flats then all the jobs will be reduced to perhaps a single care taker for the flats and the odd bit of maintenece, whereas prisons and sorting plants create jobs year after year i just hope shropshire/northwales can get the new super max prison and that some economic activity can remain on these sites along with the inevitable unaffordable housing

reeceer

What will happen to the Dan prison, how many jobs will be created to use it in a practical and financial rewardind establishment.

Robin Hood

What we can all look forward to is super prisons run by G4S and the likes at the expense of well-run, smaller prisons like Shrewsbury.

And we all know how efficient and reliable G4S are - prisoners escaping left, right and centre when they took over prison transport contracts (yes it was them), not being able to recruit sufficient staff to honour the Olympics security contract......

Mike Oxlonge

Hard labour camps are needed or even better, build prisons at sea and off shore. Jobs will be lost and its unfortunate, but there are plenty of jobs out there. What makes me annoyed is when people say ' theres's no jobs'. What they mean is that there is, but they can be asked to do the cleanig jobs or ba jobs etc because those jobs are seen as 'rubbish ones'. But if you have to make ends meet and you have no money surely you would take something until and better job comes up...

In this country that is the main problem, if you don't like the look or sound of the job we won't do it no matter ifyour relly in need of cash. It's all about street cred...

Michaela

I felt a twinge of sadness when I heard the decision to close the prison and not necessarily for the right reasons. I have strong happy memories as a child growing up in the 80's in Shrewsbury. We used to walk from Meole Brace every sunday to visit my Grandad Jack in Castlefields. We used to walk to town over the Dana Bridge and alongside the prison walls. I was always fascinated by the building and the mystery beyond the walls. It was a big part of my childhood. We'd walk along the river on the way home so we could see the Weir. I love the aerial shots you've posted because I always wanted to look inside. I think the facade is fabulous.

Port Hill Boy

Where is our normally "rent a quote " MP when his Conservative Government puts over 200 local people on the dole?

Blue Boy

this is actually really good for the rebalancing of uk plc, it will help create private sector jobs unlike these public sector non jobs, what with this and the leftist post office closing there will be less trade unionists and less parasitic public employees (funded with taxes on you and me) so this is a really good thing for the town it reduces the % of the workforce which is doing public (unproductive) work so it helps the economy, thats a fact and more public cuts are needed because shrewsbury is still too dependant on the public sector for employment, lets create some real jobs you know the ones who PAY taxes not just absorb taxes and waste our money

Mark

Sounds like you didn't get the job but then there is an aptitude test it sounds like you haven't got a clue. Also hiding behind a nick name caps it all off as this does sound like an uninformed personal attack on the people who work there or have connections with the prison, I am not even sure if this is an actual e-mail or someone just trying to get a reaction.

bill rangecroft

i cannot believe that any government,who are short of prison places,can close eight prisons with a capacity to house appx 2600 inmates,before new,alternative accommodation has been built.The eight prisons that are mentioned are all of similar size and employ about 200 staff each ie 8x200=1600 staff all of whom will either be made redundant,retired,or transferred to other hmp establishments at a staggering cost to the taxpayer,which i would imagine to be well in excess of the 63million they claim they will save".Talk about the lunatics running the aylum."this conservative party,with the assistance of the soon to be non existant libdems,will not behappy until such times as thet have ruined the prison service,the probation service,the armed forces,schools,the police force,royal mail,the dvla and any other public service that can be turned into profit for their friends.I would like to conclude by saying tht in 1963 i joined the prison service at shrewsbury and served there for seven years before transferring to hmp nottingham for a further twenty five years.I can honestly say that the seven yrs i spent at shrewsbury were the seven happiest years of my working life.of the 200 or so staff who worked there everyone knew eachother,(as well as most of the inmates) and we worked together as a team.his would be a virtual impossibility

Mark Thompson

I am still there with the other staff still maintaining a high standard of work, I know that nothing can change Shrewsbury Prisons fate now and most of the prisoners are sympathetic and as upset as we are because of the high standards we keep and work we do with them. There could have been further savings made and we were planning to make those savings and I do not believe that closure was the best option. The prison has had a massive amount of work done over the last 5 years costing millions so the building is fit for purpose and meets current Health & Safety regs with no further work needed. I do not know what the process is and weather any of the people who are responsible for the decision to close HMP Shrewsbury have ever been in the establishment. We are all very sad that a building that has been at the heart of Shrewsburys' community for hundreds of years and has allways been full of life will end on 31st March 2013.