18 December 2014

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Newspaper in bid to save local prison from axe

A weekly newspaper is petitioning 10 Downing Street as part of a campaign to save its local prison from closure.

The Lincolnshire Echo launched the online petition after it learning that Lincoln Prison could be closed after 140 years and the building used to house illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.

The closure plan would mean the loss of around 500 jobs with 750 prisoners sent to various sites outside the county.

A review of the prison site is being undertaken by the Ministry of Defence with a decision on its future expected to be made soon.

Editor Steven Fletcher said:  “The possible closure of Lincoln City is a huge story in this city. The prison provides direct and indirect employment to at least 500 people.

“The public were unaware the Ministry of Justice was carrying out a review and that Lincoln Prison’s future was up in the air.

“We’re going to fight this hard. The Echo has to lead the way in standing up for the best interest of the city. We don’t want it closing, and even downgrading the prison would cost hundreds of jobs. We want it to remain as a Category B prison.

“What we want to do with this campaign is make Government listen, before they make an irreversible decision that would be devastating for the local economy.

The paper’s online petition which has been lodged on the Downing Street website calls for a full public consultation before the prison is closed.

Lincolnshire County Council is also opposing the move, with chief executive Tony McCardle arguing that the prison attracts £11m into the local economy.

He said: “This will put an incredible burden on local businesses, the probation service and local solicitors. It would be a huge and unnecessary blow at a crucial time when times are already very hard.

“Around 500 potential job losses is significant in that we do not have many employers in Lincolnshire that employ that many people. With so many jobs on the line, anything like this is bound to have a knock-on effect.

“Any significant job losses are regrettable. This isn’t just going to be a short-term problem, but a long-term one and that is of great concern.”

6 Comments

  1. PaperBoy, Wales

    It’s a shame that the Echo front page or the editor’s quotes also fail to make the point the prison serves its local population.
    The economic value is obviously important, but shouldn’t the paper also defend the value of housing prisoners locally so that they are closer to their families?
    I would have thought a fair number of Echo readers have family members over the wall and would appreciate the Echo’s support in ensuring they aren’t separated by unnecessary distance if the prison closes and prisoners are dispersed across a wider area, away from the support and contact with their families.

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  2. fair's fair

    To be fair to the Echo, one of the pieces inside the paper does say: [Lincolnshire County Council chief executive] Mr McArdle also highlighted the financial burden that would be suffered by relatives of prisoners who will have to travel outside of Lincolnshire to visit.

    Every year, Lincoln Prison deals with 2,600 new prisoners. While 39 per cent of these are from Lincolnshire, Mr McArdle says up to half have connections to the county.

    “The amount spent on transport for relatives getting to see the prisoners will be huge,” he said.

    “This will all have a massive impact on the local economy.”

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  3. P Towlson XJP, Midlands

    A huge story for the city. I am really glad the Echo are going to town on this as it’s a massive talking point within the local community. I am sure the majority will be right behind the paper’s campaign and it’s sure to drive up sales. Well done and thanks again Echo.

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  4. PaperBoy

    Fair’s fair

    Thanks, haven’t seen the paper myself and didn’t seek out any stories online.
    Still disappointed though the points about ‘local prison for local prisoners’ doesn’t seem to feature as part of the Echo’s campaign.
    You say it quotes the council’s chief executive, as it should regardless of any view it may have, in order to cover the whole story. Has it not sought quotes from a prisoner’s rights body, local families to make the point of importance of close contact with families, and how it can impact on re-offending?
    I hope this is/will feature as part of the Echo’s campaign.
    Regardless of what was inside the paper, I think the impact of closure on local offenders and their families should have featured as one of the main points of the Echo’s front page.
    As P Towlson says I’m sure it could help drive sales and reader engagement, on all sides of the prison debate.

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  5. G Barnard

    From 1973-1980, I was the Deputy Governor of Lincoln Prison, and therefore appreciate that my view may be a little out-of-date. However, at that time the prison received prisoners from a very wide catchment area – Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Grimsby, Hull. It was an extremely busy prison. Apart from the financial and employment impact any closure would have, the disruption to families, the distances police, probation services would have to travel in order to go to wherever these individuals would have to be incarcerated is incalculable. I would be interested to hear what arrangements would be made to handle this situation, and at what cost.

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  6. PaperBoy

    *prisoners’ rights body

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