Extra security being put in after Travellers evicted from Wellingborough Prison site

Wellingborough Prison

Wellingborough Prison

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Additional security is being put in place after Travellers set up camp on the site of a former prison.

Travellers have been staying within the grounds of HMP Wellingborough since early September.

Since then, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden Peter Bone has been working with residents who live nearby in Millers Park to try and get them to leave.

Mr Bone confirmed that the Travellers finally left on Monday after being served with a notice to leave the prison site, which has been empty since the prison closed in December 2012.

He has been in regular contact with residents and the Ministry of Justice since the Travellers arrived, including meeting several residents on Friday to discuss their concerns.

The MP also raised the issue during a debate in the House of Commons on September 8, just days after the Travellers arrived, and said: “Wellingborough Prison is a reserve prison so it is not operating at the moment.

“It is at the end of a large residential area, and three days ago 10 Traveller families dumped themselves on the prison car park.

“The Ministry of Justice has tried its best to move them.

“The situation has become unacceptable to my constituents, especially those living nearby.”
He also asked for a statement on how the Government deals with Travellers who are on Crown property.

Following this week’s eviction, Mr Bone admitted it had been a ‘long drawn-out process’ to get to this point, which he said was due to the legal processes required in a case like this.

Mr Bone said: “They eventually got the notice to evict the Travellers on Monday and they got them off on Monday, which was great.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said this week: “HMP Wellingborough has been retained in the prison estate to allow for extra capacity if needed.

“A number of individuals were recently removed from the site and we have put extra security measures in to stop any illegal encampment at the site.”

Wellingborough Prison closed in December 2012 and resulted in the loss of almost 600 prison places.

Former justice secretary Ken Clarke said closing the category C prison in Northamptonshire would save £10 million per year.

When the prison formally closed on December 21, 2012, prisons minister at the time Jeremy Wright indicated that the site could be used as a prison again in the future.

In June 2014, Mr Wright stated in a parliamentary written answer to Mr Bone that Wellingborough Prison would be retained in a mothballed state for reserve capacity.

Mr Bone has been campaigning for the prison to be re-opened since it closed and he regularly raises the issue in Parliament.

Leader of Wellingborough Council Martin Griffiths said: “I was actively involved as a ward councillor in the campaign to keep the prison opened back in 2012 and warned of the risk of this to the then prison minister Jeremy Wright.

“I have every sympathy with the residents of Millers Park and still strongly believe that Wellingborough with all its great transport links would be an excellent site for a new modern prison facility to replace the old Victorian jails that sadly are still in use.”