Mixed reaction to Castle prison closure

Stacey Riley
Stacey Riley

HMP LANCASTER Castle is set to close in March with ambitious plans to turn it into a major tourist attraction, but prison officers and staff have expressed shock and anger at the decision.

It was announced last Thursday by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke that three prisons, including Lancaster Castle, were to be shut, taking nearly 900 places out of the system.

Lancaster Castle, which employs 300 staff, currently houses the prison and Lancaster Crown Court, and also operates small tours for visitors.

The closure of the prison, which has a capacity of 243 inmates, could enable the ancient castle to be developed into a major tourist attraction “with significant private investment”, according to the city and county councils, but prison officers and Lancaster Green Party Councillors have slammed the decision, claiming it makes no sense.

Paul Barwell, secretary of the Prison Officer’s Association, said: “We’re all totally shocked at the decision.

See the Lancaster Guardian (21-01-11) for full story.