Prison petition calls for parliamentary debate

By Ross Findon

Saturday, January 19, 2013

 

Prison petition calls for parliamentary debate

Prison officers and staff gather outside Albany House, following the news Camp Hill was to be closed.

A PETITION, calling for a parliamentary debate on the closure of Camp Hill, has been started by a prison worker.

Camp Hill Prison Officers Association (POA) branch secretary Ben Cooper has started an e-petition which under government rules, if signed by 100,000 people, could lead to a House of Commons debate on the issue.

It follows outcry from many on the Island over the decision to close the prison, which is part of HMP Isle of Wight.

The POA has warned that it could put 400 jobs at risk, including officers, prison staff, lecturers and health workers.

There have also been warnings of a devastating widespread effect on the Isle of Wight economy.

Mr Cooper, 25, said: "The decision to close the prison is an idealogical one from a Tory government that wants to privatise the service."

He said the decision was based on cost issues and not the performance of the prison. He criticised plans to replace Camp Hill, and others earmarked for closure, with a titan prison capable of holding 2,000 prisoners.

"The evidence shows that these titan prisons do not work," said Mr Cooper.

He said there were ongoing fears that Albany and Parkhurst could be closed next, bringing to an end a vital career opportunity for many young Islanders.

The petition has had the backing of the POA national executive, which is to call on members nationally to support it, according to Camp Hill branch official Richard Knox.

Mr Knox, along with branch officials representing Parkhurst and Albany, is due to meet with Andrew Turner MP on Monday to discuss the Camp Hill closure.

The petition can be viewed and signed at epetitions.direct.gov.uk

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