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York Council Leader Writes to Justice Minister Over Askham Grange Closure


5:28pm 12th December 2013

The leader of York Council James Alexander has written to Justice Minister Lord McNally with his fears over the closure of Askham Grange prison.

The Ministry of Justice announced in October HMP Askham Grange, which can house up to 128 female prisoners will be closed.

Offenders at the open prison will be put on to employment schemes in their local communities instead.

It's not clear when the HMP Askham Grange will shut for good or what will happen to the 100 staff who work there and at East Sutton Park prison in Kent which is also closing.

Now the leader of the city council has raised his concerns on the impact of the staff and asked what the Ministry of Justice is doing to help them find new jobs. His letter is printed below:

Dear Lord McNally,

As Leader of City of York Council, I would like some clarity on the reasons behind the recent announcement to close Askham Grange prison near York. I would also
like to know what the Government will be doing to support the 100 individuals who currently work in the prison and are now unsure of their future.

This decision is a disappointing one. Askham Grange’s reputation as a quality institution for female prisoners is undisputed. The reoffending rates for prisoners who
have been at the institution are amongst the lowest in the country, its educational and rehabilitative services are praised, and its mother-and-baby facilities are ranked
as “excellent” by inspectors. This is in no small part due to the quality and high competence of the staff employed within the institution.

My chief concern lies with the 100 people employed by Askham Grange who are currently unsure of their immediate and long-term future. I would like to have more
clarity on the likely timescale for closure of the prison. I would also like to know what measures the Ministry of Justice is planning to take to support the employees of Askham Grange and to help them find new opportunities elsewhere.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr. James Alexander
Labour Leader of City of York Council

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