Meeting over future of Hull Prison is 'positive'
PRISON officers have met MPs to discuss concerns about the closure of two wings at Hull's jail.
Hull East MP Karl Turner and Hull West and Hessle representative Alan Johnson met with officers from Hull Prison after it was announced the jail's Victorian C and D wings would close.
The Ministry of Justice announced last month the two wings would be shut down, leading to the loss of 282 beds and about 70 jobs.
Rob Nicholson, prison officer and chair of the Prison Officers Association in Hull, said: "It was a really positive meeting and they listened to our concerns about the wings closing and what that could mean for the safety of officers and the rehabilitation of prisoners."
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C wing has already closed, with D wing due to shut later this month. Prisoners from the wings have been moved to jails in Everthorpe, near Brough, and Northallerton, in North Yorkshire.
Mr Turner has already asked Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright for a meeting to discuss his concerns.
He said: "It was a really good meeting which gave myself and Alan chance to hear their concerns, which are mainly about the safety of the members and the practicalities of job losses and how they will affect the management of the prison."
Last week, prison governor Norman Griffin said he expected about 70 prison officers to lose their jobs through early retirement and voluntary redundancy. Mr Nicholson said 70 requests from staff to leave through the retirement and redundancy schemes have been approved, with staff expected to leave the jail in June and July.
He said: "They are all rank and file officers, which is a concern for us.
"When they go, we will lose a great deal of experience. Some of them will have been in the prison service for 30 or 40 years, which you just can't replace.
"It seems like the Ministry of Justice would rather have a smaller pay bill than experienced officers.
"It takes 38 officers to man those wings, yet we are losing 70 members of staff, so we are making further efficiency savings on top of what is needed for these wing closures.
"If we have fewer officers, it will mean there is less chance to build that relationship and trust with the prisoners, which is so crucial for their rehabilitation.
"These are people who have committed crimes, who are coming back out on to the streets of Hull.
"Hull is a high-performing, low-cost prison and we don't think these wings should be closed."
Just 15 prisoners remain on D wing. They will be moved this month allowing the wing to be mothballed.
The two MPs spent an hour with officers during a meeting on Friday.
Members of the Prison Officers Association will protest in London this week against plans to close six prisons and partially shut two others.
A debate will also be held in the House of Commons.
The partial closure of the Hedon Road jail was announced by the Government as part of plans to make the prison service more cost-effective.
The Ministry of Justice also announced plans to create a 2,000-place "super jail", which will be located in London, North Wales or the north-west of England.
Mr 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."