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Kingston Prison in Portsmouth to close, Ministry of Justice reveals
11:19am Thursday 10th January 2013 in Crime
A HAMPSHIRE prison is one of six in England, are to close, the Ministry of Justice said today.
Kingston Prison in Portsmouth, which holds 200 inmates is to close. In total, the six prisons hold up to 2,600 prisoners.
The six will be replaced by a 2,000 capacity 'super prison' in either London, the north west or north Wales, the MoJ added.
Acting governor of HMP Kingston, Martin Hatch, said: “Clearly this is a sad day for HMP Kingston prison as we have been proud to protect the public and help reduce re-offending for so many years.
“We understand that this is absolutely not a reflection of our performance.
“I know that everything possible will be done to avoid compulsory redundancies by seeking to redeploy staff to other establishments and by using the Voluntary Early Departure Scheme where appropriate. Work will also now begin to identify new allocations for prisoners which take account of their sentence plans and particular needs as far as is possible.
“I can assure the local community with whom we have worked so closely for so long that public protection will remain our priority throughout the closure process.”
Meanwhile, capacity at a further three prisons, including the amalgamated prison on the Isle of Wight, will see their capacities reduced.
On the island, Camp Hill will be closed, reducing the overall capacity of the Island's prison facilities.
The programme is part of a drive to build new capacity to replace older prisons and bring down the cost of the prison system. It is expected to save £63 million a year.
Justice Secretary Chris 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.
''So we have to move as fast as we can to replace the older parts of our prison system.''
The plans for the super-prison appear to contrast with the views of Mr Grayling's predecessor Kenneth Clarke who was an advocate of rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
In addition to the super-prison Mr Grayling unveiled plans for four new mini-prisons known as houseblocks.
It is intended to build these at existing prisons at Parc in South Wales, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, the Mount in Hertfordshire, and Thameside in London. In total they will be able to hold up to 1,260.
Some 83,632 inmates were behind bars as of last Friday, down from the record high of 88,179 after the summer's riots in 2011. MoJ forecasts show the population could hit 90,900 by 2018.
Plans to build a new super-prison are likely to draw comparisons to Labour's £2.9 billion proposal for three 2,500-capacity ''Titan'' jails, which was scrapped in 2009.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: ''Closing prisons and reducing prison numbers offers major social and economic gains but it would be a gigantic mistake if the Justice Secretary were to revive the discredited idea of titans and pour taxpayers' money down the prison-building drain, when the coalition Government could invest in crime prevention, healthcare and community solutions to crime.''
Kingston Prison - in profile
Based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, Kingston is a category C prison holding up to 205 indeterminate sentenced prisoners.
It holds both category B life-sentenced prisoners and category C life-sentenced prisoners. It has four wings of single accommodation and another with a mixture of single and shared rooms. It had an annual budget of £5.8 million in the year 2011/12 and the cost per prisoner is roughly £50,000.
Employment opportunities include catering, desktop publishing, fork lift truck operation and data entry.
The prison was built between 1874 and 1876 by French prisoners of war and is a listed building with many of the original Victorian architectural features. Notable inmates include EastEnders actor Leslie ''Dirty Den'' Grantham.