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No change to Dorset prison provision 'disappointing'
12:57pm Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
DORSET prisoners will not be sent to Dorset prisons, it has been announced.
As reported in the Echo last week, Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill and the county’s MPs had been lobbying officials to review the allocation of prison places in Dorset.
People from Dorset who are convicted of crime are sent to prisons such as HMP Exeter or HMP Channings Wood.
Places at Dorset’s two prisons- HMP Portland and HMP Guys Marsh- are used for prisoners from Wiltshire and further afield.
Mr Underhill says this ‘undermines’ work being done to reduce re-offending rates.
But following a review of the system, the Ministry of Justice has announced it will not be changing local prison provision.
Mr Underhill said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ at the news.
He added: “ The reality is that, with very few exceptions, Dorset prisoners will be housed outside Dorset whether they are male or female, on remand or convicted.
“Both I and the people of Dorset struggle to understand this.
“When I was elected, Dorset had a prison estate of four prisons – HMP Portland, Guys Marsh, The Verne and Dorchester.
“With Dorchester now closed and The Verne designated for immigration use, 14 months later, we now have two.
“Neither of these is allowed to house Dorset people in Dorset prisons.
“It is frankly ludicrous. A prison has to be close to a prisoner’s community to support family links and community engagement.
“This will join up the geography of the prison estate with community provision so that voluntary sector organisations can deliver care that reflects their local needs.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, providing support to prisoners and tackling re-offending is a key part of my role.
“Both will be difficult to provide remotely. Prisoners will struggle to maintain contact with their families and the provision of local ‘through the gate’ services will be adversely affected.”