Police sent in to Wellingborough Kier prison building site to remove protesters

The protesters started their lock-in sit-in at 7am yesterday

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 1:48 pm

A group of protesters blocking the entrance to Wellingborough's new £253million prison construction site with a human barricade has started to be removed by police.

Northamptonshire Police's Protest Removal Team have been cutting out four 'lock on' protesters who sealed their arms into concrete-filled oil drums at the HMP Five Wells site entrance.

Around 30 police officers and two emergency response unit paramedic teams from East Midlands Ambulance Service have been attending the scene today (Tuesday).

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Protestors with the Protest Removal Team
Protestors with the Protest Removal Team

Protesters were given PPE to shield them from the dust as officers with angle grinders cut into the blocks of solid concrete.

One protester told the Northants Telegraph: "We are pleased with how it has been going. We tried to give information to the Kier workers why we were holding the protest."

The protesters have claimed that self-employed site workers didn't get paid yesterday and that's why they are protesting because they want to highlight the 'union-busting practices.'

And the protester added: "We are really sorry for the inconvenience it has caused them but it's essential that we make a stand. It's about them."

An angle grinder was used to cut through the concrete

The new correctional facility being built by Kier on land formerly occupied by Wellingborough Prison, will hold around 1,680 prisoners and is due to open in early 2022.

As reported by this newspaper yesterday hundreds of workers were sent home after the group of about 15 'autonomous like-minded' protestors took direct action to stop delivery vehicles from reaching the site.

Speaking yesterday one protester, who had encased their arm inside a concrete-filled oil drum, said: "We are autonomous, like-minded people, acting in solidarity against Kier.

"We are protesting against the privatisation of the prison system - a whole system that is motivated by profits."

Evidence gatherers were on the scene

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: “We remain on scene at the HMP Wellingborough site protest and at the current time, are working to safely remove the barrels of concrete the protestors have attached themselves to.

“Our priority here is to ensure everyone involved is kept safe and to minimise disruption as much as possible to nearby businesses and the local community.

“We intend to remain on scene until a resolution is reached and any offences committed will be dealt with robustly.”

Kier was awarded the multi-million contract by the Ministry of Justice under its Prison Estate Transformation Programme for the new prison.

A Kier spokesman said: “We respect everyone’s right to a peaceful protest. HMP Five Wells replaces the former HMP Wellingborough and provides modern facilities, creating a safe and secure environment to encourage rehabilitation.”