Disgraceful London jails to make way for housing

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The Independent Online

Two notorious London prisons are facing closure, to be replaced with luxury housing developments. David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has told MPs that he hopes to close "outdated" prisons that were "a disgrace to the 21st century".

Aides said yesterday that his main targets were Brixton, in south London, and Holloway, a women's jail in the north of the capital, although Wandsworth, in south-west London, could also face closure.

Inspections of Brixton and Holloway jails have repeatedly resulted in scathing condemnation of conditions.

Mr Blunkett has started negotiations with the Treasury for the cash to build replacement jails on an industrial site on the outskirts of London. Much, or all, of the cost could be recouped by the sale of land, as the prisons are close to sought-after residential areas.

Brixton and Holloway were two of the three jails named as the worst in England and Wales by the Government last year when it handed them "one-star" status in a new rating system. A Home Office source said that such prisons could not be reformed, adding: "We have to do something different."