Suffolk jail split in two

PRISON bosses have moved to end confusion about the future of Hollesley Bay Prison by turning it into two separate units.The decision means the prison near Woodbridge has a separate open wing and closed unit – each with its own governor and staff.

By Jessica Nicholls

PRISON bosses have moved to end confusion about the future of Hollesley Bay Prison by turning it into two separate units.

The decision means the prison near Woodbridge has a separate open wing and closed unit – each with its own governor and staff.

Previous governor Stuart Robinson is in charge of Warren Hill – the closed unit for juveniles – and a new governor for the open wing, Mel Jones, will arrive at the end of this month. The open prison has facilities for adults and young offenders.


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Mr Robinson will also be in charge of the specialised Section 53 unit, which has about 25 juveniles, and services shared between the prisons – such as kitchen services, transport, health care and probation.

"It is seen as a very positive move which will hopefully improve our services. The two sections of the prison are very different in how they are run and this will mean staff can concentrate on one specific role," said a spokeswoman for the Suffolk prison.

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"There will not be any physical change and there will still be several aspects on which we will work together. But things, such as working out how best to allocate resources, will be made easier under the new set-up."

The split should put an end to uncertainty over the future of the Suffolk prison, highlighted by the 2001 report of the jail's board of visitors.

Jane Stearn, the board's chairman who penned the report, had spoken of concerns about morale because of the uncertainty, with the prison's open wing thought to be "very much the poor relation".

But she said recent developments had provided a new air of optimism at the jail, where its work with juveniles was described in the report as "really impressive".

Mrs Stearn explained the decision to split the sections had been made earlier this year and said the change had taken effect from the start of April.

"This has been talked about for a long while and although it is only really an administrative change, it is a real boost for the open wing, which has had an uncertain future," she added.

One issue where some uncertainty remained surrounded the future of the jail's estate and its nurseries – including an 1,500-acre farm containing the nation's largest herd of Suffolk Punch horses.

Mrs Stearn said a report on its future had been written, but "is not allowed to be published".

But she described the report into the prison's operations and facilities as "largely positive" and an improvement on past years.

"It is in a healthy position and if you look at other prisons in the region, Hollesley Bay compares very favourably," added Mrs Stearn.

n There are currently three vacancies on the prison's board of visitors. Anyone interested should write to the board's clerk at Hollesley Bay Prison.

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