January 13, 2011 11.05 am This story is over 137 months old

Jobs at risk as women’s prison changes use

Change of use: 250 jobs are at risk at a women’s prison near Lincoln, as the facility is set to become an immigration centre.

— Later edit for clarification over change of use of the prison

Hundreds of jobs are at risk at the Morton Hall women’s prison in Swinderby, near Lincoln, as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will change the use of the facility.

The prison, accommodating 392 female inmates, was formerly an RAF base and was re-opened as a prison in 1985, then refurbished in 2002.

It only became a closed women’s prison in March 2009, and has recently been developing as a specialist foreign national centre, representing 50 languages.

Under new plans, Morton Hall would be converted into an immigration removal centre housing illegal immigrants awaiting deportation from the UK.

The plans had originally been discussed last year in February, though did not come into fruition until now.

Morton Hall currently employs around 250 people, some of whom will face either voluntary redundancy or relocation nearby.

The prison’s change in circumstance is one of three prisons affected across the country, alongside Rutland’s Ashwell prison and Lancaster Castle prison.

The latter two, which together hold 458 inmates, are set to close by July in the department’s shakeup, according to reports.

Assistant General Secretary of the Prison Officer’s Association Glyn Travis told BBC Lincolnshire he was very disappointed about the plans.

“There will be plenty of staff and prisoners waiting on this morning not knowing what the future holds.

“It will have a significant effect on the local community as staff will have to be made redundant or relocated, at a cost to the taxpayer.

“Turning [the prison] into [an immigration removal centre] is a possibility, but there has been no foresight or consultations with the local authorities and councils as to what can happen with the land.

“[Having a reduced prison population] is a good thing, provided we’re reducing the prison population and not leaving the people who should be in prison in the community to commit further crimes.”