Reading Prison to close
Published: 4 Sep 2013 17:0114 comments
JAIL bosses have called time on Reading Prison's 170 year history.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright is due to tell Parliament today that the iconic institution, which first opened in 1844 and has been used to house young offenders since 1992, will close because it is too cramped.
The real estate value of the site will also have proved attractive to the Government because it would be ripe for redevelopment.
The jail has enjoyed a colourful history including hosting its most famous inmate Oscar Wilde, who was sent down to two years hard labour in 1895 after being found guilty of "homosexual offences".
Reading East MP Rob Wilson said: “Reading Prison has been an important part of our town’s history. It has been part of local life in Reading since 1844, and has had some well-known inmates, including Oscar Wilde.
“In recent years it has been a youth offenders institute and has been cramped and not fit for purpose. Staff have done a fantastic job in difficult circumstances, so my first thoughts are for them. I will be demanding a meeting with the Minister to ensure staff have every opportunity to be redeployed or are supported to find suitable alternative employment.
“Nonetheless, the decision offers an opportunity to do something new and positive with the land. The important thing now is that we have a proper consultation of local people so they can have their say on what is the best use we can make of the site, while deciding at the same time whether all or part of the heritage of the prison is worth preserving. It is important that local people have their say on the future of this landmark site.
“I would encourage anyone who has ideas to contact me so that we ensure that the Ministry of Justice does the right thing with the land.”