"This is a Transition Phase and Jobs are Secure" Dorset PCC on the Verne
8:14am 21st March 2014
Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner says he's happy with ongoing transition of Portland's Verne prison.
The Ministry of Justice told Wessex FM they were behind schedule with transforming the jail into an immigration removal centre, but detainees would move in on Monday (24th March) as planned.
For now and until the full transition is made the Verne will be called a prison, but there are no plans to keep the Verne on as a prison - despite speculation.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill says he's had talks with the prisons governor;
"The Verne, you now I think people are just getting lost in translation, this is a prison going from one function to another. Jobs are secure I'm told and I know the Governor himself is happy with it as well."
Although Underhill welcomes the arrival of an immigration centre on Portland, he's still firmly against the Ministry of Justice's plans for other local jails;
"I welcome the use of the Verne as an Immigration Detention Centre as it safeguards the future of the prison and its staff. However, I do not support Ministry of Justice plans for Dorset's other prisons. The decision to use HMP Guys Marsh and HMP Portland to house prisoners from Avon and Somerset, Gloucester and Wiltshire is nonsensical. Dorset has three prisons in total, yet our prisoners will be housed in Devon, which will adversely affect family support and cause huge logistical problems. It seriously hampers my attempts, and those of local agencies and charities, to break the cycle of offending."