Plans to install new prison gate put on hold

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
6:30 AM

A move to shelve plans to install a new gate at Norwich Prison has been criticised by independent monitors who say the Victorian-era main gate is “dangerously small”.

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The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has had concerns about the main gate at the Knox Road jail – the way in and out for prisoners, visiting families as well as staff – for some time.

Plans had been agreed for a new gate at the prison which would have kept pedestrians separate from vehicles, but the IMB say cuts have led to the scheme being put on hold.

Trish Phillips, from HMP Norwich’s IMB, which is looking for volunteers, said: “For years we have criticised the gate. It’s also the way in and out for the huge vans that transport prisoners and bring all supplies into the prison, so staff and visitors, who are often women with small children and babies, having to wait, often in the cold and rain, for up to 20 minutes, while the vans pass. They’re not allowed through at the same time as pedestrians, but even so we are concerned about the possibility of an accident.”

She added: “The IMB has listed the need for a new gate in its annual report since 2004. When it was agreed last year, we took it as a tribute to our monitoring work, which covers all those aspects of the prison which impact on prisoners, their families and the wider world to which these men will return. So we’re very frustrated.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The main gate at Norwich Prison has recently been redecorated and remains fully operational. We are currently reviewing the potential for further modernisation of the gate. This work would only take place if it met budgetary requirements, and provided taxpayers with decent value for money.”

To find out more about joining the IMB call 01953 804100 and ask for the IMB clerk.

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