Villagers furious over plans to house prisoners next to their homes

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Residents of a cul-de-sac just metres from the prison ranked among the most violent in England are outraged over plans to build two “open” inmate housing blocks right next to their homes.

Eight residential properties near Foston Hall women’s prison in Derbyshire will be just metres from the blocks, which are planned to accommodate prisoners who need less supervision than those housed in the main, high-security facility.

According to planning documents, the blocks will be used for inmates who have been assessed as “low-risk”. But it doesn’t make it clear how they’ll be assessed, and, in any case, has not calmed the apprehension of those nearby.

And one resident said: “They’ve been convicted for something. You don’t go to prison for nothing. The developers are taking a very cavalier attitude to people’s safety. That’s bang out of order.”

Another man said: “If one of the prisoners loses the plot, elderly people and women are not in a position to defend themselves.

One mum added: “It doesnt make us feel safe because nothing feels like it’s being done properly.”

The new blocks will house 50 inmates in a similar way to the open prisons at nearby HMP Sudbury, where convicts aren’t locked up in cells are allowed to undertake employment, Derbyshire Live reports.

The two-storey buildings, described as “ugly” and looking like “aircraft carriers” by the locals, will have washed out windows, but inmates will still be able to open and close them. Existing trees and shrubs will screen the nearby properties, according to the documents, in addition to a six-foot wooden perimeter fence, which one resident described as the sort that “anyone could climb over”.

The women living in the blocks “may be eligible for work release” but “would not be able to leave the facility unless it was to attend a purposeful activity which includes work in the community, childcare settlement leave and to maintain family ties,” says the document.

A nightly curfew would be in the place and the blocks “would be secure,” it adds. The inmates would still be subject to prison rules.

In September, the prison was ranked as “poor” after an inspection with rates of violence said to be “far too high” and reports of more than 1,000 calls to Samaritans made my inmates every month. It also highlighted a “lack of deployable staff”.

The land on which the proposed build will take place is currently a staff car park, which will be relocated to the top of the road.

The residents also say that a new car park will cause traffic problems, due to the fact that the road is currently only wide enough for one vehicle to fit at once. On Mondays, with residents trying to get to school and work, a dustbin lorry and 88 staff or visitors all attempting to pass through, the plans would cause havoc.

The consultation period closes tomorrow, February 10. Comments can be added via the link here.

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