Calls for city jail to be kept open for public tours

OPEN THE DOORS Kingston Prison in Portsmouth
OPEN THE DOORS Kingston Prison in Portsmouth
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CALLS have been made for Kingston Prison in Portsmouth to be opened up to the public before it is potentially redeveloped.

As previously reported in The News, inmates are being moved out of the 143-year-old jail in Milton Road, after the decision was made by the Ministry of Justice to close it.

Tory councillor Luke Stubbs has written a letter to Ian Young, governor of HMP Kingston, asking if there could be an opportunity in the near future for people living nearby to have a look around.

So far no plans have been put forward to turn the building into something else.

Cllr Stubbs wrote: ‘The closure of Kingston Prison is a matter of great regret, not least because of the loss of employment.

‘The future of the building must also be in some doubt.

‘However, as far as I am aware, there are no immediate plans to do anything with the site. That means there is a small opportunity to open the prison to the public for a few days, just so the people of the city can satisfy their curiosity as to what lies behind those imposing walls.

‘I know this would be unusual, but it would engender goodwill and would be a fitting final chapter in the nearly 150-year story of Kingston.’

Cllr Stubbs has not yet received a reply.

Giving the reasons behind his request, he said: ‘Most people have never been inside a prison. I am sure many would jump at the chance to have a look around.

‘It is a part of Portsmouth’s heritage after all and providing a few tours to the public wouldn’t cost much.

‘The odds must be that the building will end up being converted into flats, but before that happens it would be a nice gesture to let local people see what’s behind the wall.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said it would be good for people to see the prison’s football pitch and workshops.

‘A lot of people want to see inside something they’ve been driving past for generations,’ he said.

HMP Kingston is one of seven closing in England including Camp Hill Prison on the Isle of Wight, a move the government says will save £63m a year.

There are 115 prison staff working at HMP Kingston, and about 200 prisoners.