Local residents received a bombshell last week when they learnt that adult prisoners to be housed at the Ashfield Young Offenders Institute from this summer, would in fact all be sex offenders. As we reported in last week’s issue, representatives from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) met with local residents during the Pucklechurch Parish Council meeting last Wednesday to explain more fully the plans to convert the young offenders institute into an adult prison. The meeting had been arranged by South Gloucestershire Councillors Steve Reade and Ben Stokes after villagers had expressed concern over the lack of information which had been made public.
The meeting was told that while the youth facility was only half full at present, it could hold 400 adult prisoners and require a lower staffing ratio. Then the bombshell was dropped that all of the inmates would either be sex offenders or other ‘vulnerable’ prisoners. Negotiations are still ongoing with SERCO, the prison operator but the representatives from NOMS were all but certain that the changes would go ahead as planned. Speaking after the meeting, the tow Councillors said: “What prison chiefs revealed at this public meeting has come as a complete shock to the Pucklechurch community – they have dropped a bombshell on our village. The responses to our survey were already showing a large majority of residents concerned about the change to a low threat level adult prison – residents will be horrified to know that dangerous adult sex offenders are to be housed at Ashfield instead. The National Offender Management Service really needs to learn lessons from its atrocious handling from the start of what is an incredibly sensitive issue.”