Bishop lends support to Portsmouth’s prison staff

PLEDGE Bishop Christopher
PLEDGE Bishop Christopher

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THE Bishop of Portsmouth has promised support for prisoners and staff as the government announced the closure of two prisons in his diocese.

The Ministry of Justice announced the closure of seven prisons and the partial closure of two others to help save an estimated £63m a year in running costs.

This includes Kingston Prison in Portsmouth, and Camp Hill Prison on the Isle of Wight.

The Rt Rev Christopher Foster said: ‘I know these prisons as I have visited both several times. I admit to feeling uncomfortable at closing prisons purely on ‘economic’ grounds.

‘For me, the bigger question is whether prisons are doing their job in terms of social justice.

‘Are they able to rehabilitate prisoners so that they are better educated, understand the impact of their crimes and want to turn their lives around? If they are to be released, are they less likely to re-offend?

‘In the prisons in this diocese, we have a system of Anglican chaplains – who are employed by the Home Office but then licensed by me – as well as chaplains of other denominations and faiths, who lead worship and offer spiritual support to prisoners and staff.

‘Then there are many Christian volunteers who give up their time to help lead chapel services, visit prisoners or help with their rehabilitation. I know the prisoners, their families and the staff find this involvement enormously helpful.

‘It’s always difficult when people lose their jobs. Although there will be some re-deployment and voluntary redundancy, there are bound to be some for whom that doesn’t apply, and that is sad for them and their loved ones.’