Fears Hull Prison will shut completely after decision to close two Victorian wings
PRISON officers fear the closure of two wings at Hull Prison will lead to the jail being shut completely.
Staff are expected to be made redundant and prisoners could be transferred to other parts of the country when the prison's Victorian C and D wings close in March.
It is expected the closures will lead to the loss of 282 beds at the Victorian jail.
It is currently authorised to hold 723 male prisoners, but held almost 1,000 at the last inspection.
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Rob Nicholson, a prison officer at the Hedon Road jail and Prison Officers Association representative, said: "It feels like there is a very bleak future for Hull Prison and that the axe is hanging over heads.
"We know the Government has said it will be making further announcements next year, so we fear they could announce the closure of Hull once and for all.
"That would be even more devastating than the news we received yesterday, which was bad enough.
"The prison has been here forever and a day and Hull can't afford to take the hit to employment that it would be."
Staff were told the news in a meeting led by prison governor Norman Griffin shortly after the plans were revealed in the House of Commons.
Mr Nicholson said: "Morale is at rock bottom. Everyone is concerned about what the future holds.
"It isn't good news for staff or for prisoners, who will face being moved to whatever prisons across the country have spaces, which is likely to be private prisons.
"We would support those wings being demolished and replaced with modern accommodation, but simply closing them and mothballing them is not the right thing to do."
Mr Nicholson said it is unclear how many jobs will be lost when the wings are closed, but said it is likely to lead to compulsory redundancies.
Hull East MP Karl Turner said: "At a time when the region needs every single job I am concerned that the Government has announced that Hull Prison will partially close.
"It is unclear how many jobs will be affected but I will be speaking to unions and prison management to understand how this will impact on the prison workforce.
"The Government has an agenda to privatise many parts of the judicial system and I fear this announcement is indicative of this agenda."
Six other jails across the country will close completely, with two others facing partial closures.
The Ministry of Justice also announced plans to create a new 2,000-place "super jail" which will be located in London, North Wales or the north-west of England.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The decision to close, or partially close, places is based on the suitability, sustainability and the cost of this accommodation.
"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."
Mr Griffin was unavailable for comment yesterday.