Askham Grange and East Sutton Park women's open prisons to close


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Two women's open prisons will be closed as part of a shake-up of the way female offenders serve their sentences, the minister for female offenders has announced.

HMP Askham Grange in Yorkshire and HMP East Sutton Park in Kent will shut "in due course" because the changes will mean there is no longer a requirement for dedicated women's open prisons, the Ministry of Justice said.

On 18 October, there were 101 prisoners in Askham Grange and 92 at Sutton Park.

The mother and baby unit at HMP Holloway in north London will also close due to under-occupancy, the MoJ said, adding that "any demand will be met by the nearby modern, purpose-built unit at HMP Bronzefield”. 

Female inmates will be moved to Eastwood Park, Foston Hall or Drake Hall once a series of refurbishments and modifications have taken place across all three prisons. 

The MoJ said it wanted female inmates to maintain family relationships and serve their sentences closer to home. Low risk offenders will also be offered skill building sessions and practical training to help them find work on their release under the new reforms.

The reforms, announced by Lord McNally, the minister for female offenders, will mean all women's prisons will become 'resettlement prisons' so that women are close to home and are more easily re-integrated into society.

Lord McNally has also announced plans to pilot an "open unit", for women and young offenders at HMP Styal in Cheshire next year, where it would consider opening a "commercial-run business" there to provide training and employment opportunities, according to the BBC.

Additional reporting by Press Association