Following the news that Victorian prisons' will be closed and sold off for housing, we look at what this will mean for current OLASS employees, prison education jobs and the local population.
These changes will see 'relics from the Victorian era', such as HMP Pentonville, closed and sold to provide more than 3000 homes to the local communities. One of the biggest issues with this is, of course, the huge levels of employment that come from a local prison. For example, the new 'super-prison' being built in Wrexham is going to provide 1000 jobs and provide a worth of £23 million a year to the local economy. Closing prisons across the UK will mean that many staff, including employees in prison education jobs, will find themselves without an establishment to work in.
London is an area where a number of Victorian prisons are based. It is also the area that has an extremely high number of prisons (13), to match the large population. With 9 new prisons to be built in the future, and a variety of similar establishments throughout the city, it certainly does not mean that prison education jobs will become impossible to find in these built up areas. The UK has a prison population of over 80,000, a number that is not going to drastically fall any time soon. This means that 10,000 inmates in Victorian prisons are expected to be moved elsewhere, creating new jobs in other local prisons that would not have been available without these changes.
When looking at how these changes will affect the local population, it is worth remembering that not everyone finds the idea of living near a prison appealing. HMP Wrexham, despite it's benefits for the economy, has divided the population - many worried about potential knock on effect for house prices or the relative security of living next to a prison. In this respect, there will be a number of the population around these places that are delighted to see the prisons close, offering new opportunities for people and businesses to move into the area.
There may be something about living in an area that was previously a Victorian that captures the imagination of a potential buyer. Successful conversions in the past include in Oxford, where a previous prison has been successfully converted in to a very well regarded 4 star hotel, using the opportunity of a prison closure to create a unique experience for people visiting the area.
Overall, with the future construction of 9 new, state-of-the-art prisons and 10,000 prisoners being moved to new locations - staff will always be needed in the industry, especially in built up areas such as London. The creation of 9 new prisons will also provide staff with state-of-the-art facilities that should improve job production, and satisfaction, to a degree that could not have been met previously.