HMP Downview could become open prison

Sutton Guardian: The Ministry of Justice could not rule out plans to make HMP Downview an open prison when it reopened in five months The Ministry of Justice could not rule out plans to make HMP Downview an open prison when it reopened in five months

Criminals serving prison sentences could soon be allowed out into the community if a HMP Downview is made into an open prison.

HMP Downview, in Banstead, was a women's prison but is closed as it is renovated to be made into a men's prison as part of Government reforms.

In its previous guise it was a closed prison, meaning serving prisoners were not allowed to leave, but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it can not rule out it being an open prison when it reopens in October.

The news comes in the same month a convicted robber known as the 'Skull Cracker' was able to abscond from open prison HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppy prompting a large-scale manhunt.

The escape of the Skull Cracker, real name Michael Wheatley, has prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to announce a review of procedures at open prisons.

But despite this the MoJ said Downview could still become an open prison - leading to concerns among Sutton councillors and even prison staff.

When asked about the chances of HMP Downview becoming a category D prison, an MoJ spokesman said: "No decision has been made. Nothing has been ruled out."

One Downview worker, who asked not to be named, said: "We're in the dark.

"I did not know there was any chance of it being an open prison but I heard some rumours and I'm worried that they aren't telling us otherwise.

"I do not have anything against open prisons, but I think people should be told if that it what is going to happen."

Sutton South Councillor Tony Shields said: "I'm very, very concerned about this and I will be campaigning to make sure it does not happen.

"I'm profoundly against any plans to have an open prison on that site. It is a very big concern - especially with regard to what happened recently with the skull cracker.

"To run the risk of a convicted offender escaping into the Sutton community is unacceptable."

In a category D or open prison, which are sometimes known as training prisons, inmates can be allowed out to work in the community or even take home leave if they are assessed as being low risk.

Would you welcome Downview becoming an open prison?

Leave a comment below.

Comments (7)

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12:04pm Wed 14 May 14

theavengers says...

What's the point of an Open prison? I thought the idea of prison was to keep you away from innocent society. So in other words, it's a free studio apartment to return to free of charge on taxpayers bill after roaming the streets unpunished while the rest of us have to work ourselves to death to pay rent.
What's the point of an Open prison? I thought the idea of prison was to keep you away from innocent society. So in other words, it's a free studio apartment to return to free of charge on taxpayers bill after roaming the streets unpunished while the rest of us have to work ourselves to death to pay rent. theavengers
  • Score: 22

12:37pm Wed 14 May 14

sjsunny says...

Just over 10 years ago HMP Downview was actually a male prison.Many of the inmates were allowed out each morning to go to 'work' - it was a common sight seeing them walking along Sutton Lane!

This prison is just basically returning to more or less what it once was a few years back if the rumours are true!

A complete waste of taxpayers money having to keep adapting it and then re-adapting it to meet the changing gender status.
Just over 10 years ago HMP Downview was actually a male prison.Many of the inmates were allowed out each morning to go to 'work' - it was a common sight seeing them walking along Sutton Lane! This prison is just basically returning to more or less what it once was a few years back if the rumours are true! A complete waste of taxpayers money having to keep adapting it and then re-adapting it to meet the changing gender status. sjsunny
  • Score: 11

1:20pm Wed 14 May 14

LiberalsOut says...

Prison is prison the whole idea of open prisons is a nonsense
We only have to look back a wekk and see what can happen
Prison is prison the whole idea of open prisons is a nonsense We only have to look back a wekk and see what can happen LiberalsOut
  • Score: 10

11:21am Thu 15 May 14

westcountrygirl says...

I live close to the prison and would be very worried about inmates out and about in the local area. I previously had the impression that an open prison was for low-risk criminals who were near ending their sentence but the recent story of "skull cracker" (a violent armed robber) being on the run was very concerning.
I live close to the prison and would be very worried about inmates out and about in the local area. I previously had the impression that an open prison was for low-risk criminals who were near ending their sentence but the recent story of "skull cracker" (a violent armed robber) being on the run was very concerning. westcountrygirl
  • Score: 3

1:08pm Thu 15 May 14

jswan1 says...

Keep the doors closed and the scumbags locked up inside.
Keep the doors closed and the scumbags locked up inside. jswan1
  • Score: 3

6:30pm Thu 15 May 14

foss17 says...

I too, live close to the prison. The local residents have had NO NOTIFICATION of "change of use" from the Home Office. We should have been notified - full stop. This is very worrying for elderly residents who can actually see the prison from their back windows - and for dog walkers and HMP employees walking the unlit path beside the old wall. HMP- Please listen to peoples comments and act accordingly.
I too, live close to the prison. The local residents have had NO NOTIFICATION of "change of use" from the Home Office. We should have been notified - full stop. This is very worrying for elderly residents who can actually see the prison from their back windows - and for dog walkers and HMP employees walking the unlit path beside the old wall. HMP- Please listen to peoples comments and act accordingly. foss17
  • Score: 5

4:53pm Fri 16 May 14

Sutton53 says...

One in ten of prisoners in an 'open prison' is a convicted murderer it has been admitted. The locality of Down View is too close for comfort to local schools and residential areas for it to become an 'open prison'.
One in ten of prisoners in an 'open prison' is a convicted murderer it has been admitted. The locality of Down View is too close for comfort to local schools and residential areas for it to become an 'open prison'. Sutton53
  • Score: 2

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