Fury as Dorchester prison destroys thousands of pounds of assets

Dorset Echo

THOUSANDS of pounds worth of equipment and furniture is being destroyed at Dorchester Prison ahead of its closure next month.

The Echo has learnt that some items, from laptops in offices to furniture in cells, have already been 'smashed up'.

A prison source has slammed authorities for the 'complete waste of taxpayers' money' that could be used in the community or given to charity.

 

Dorchester Mayor Stella Jones said it was 'scandalous'.

 

Dorchester is one of four prisons being closed in England to save money. A few inmates remain at the North Square jail there but will soon be transferred. At least 157 jobs will go at Dorchester, but staff will be offered redeployment or voluntary redundancy.

The Echo revealed in September that more than £7.3m has been wasted on refurbishing the prison in the last three years. It includes a £1.3m medical suite as well as a new roof, windows and visitor centre.

 

The prison source said: "A lot of the equipment in the new building was made for Dorchester so cannot be used elsewhere - the public are being misled.

 

"Other prisons are fully furnished and can only take so much of this equipment and the cost involved in moving it means it is not worthwhile.

 

"It is all put into an area and if it is not claimed by another prison it is destroyed. I think it should be donated or given to our community.

Items include lockers, football, pool and table tennis tables, power tools, cabinets, office equipment, cell furniture and much more.

Around 100 laptops and computers are set to be destroyed under Data Protection law.

The source said: "The laptops would still be worth around £1,500 without the hard drives and many of the recreational items could be given to local youth groups."

 

Dorchester Mayor Stella Jones said: "It is scandalous that this equipment should be destroyed when charities could be using them.

"I hope they have had second thoughts about wasting these valuable resources.

 

"We try to encourage everyone in the community to recycle and reuse - what a bad example they are giving."

 

A MINISTRY of Justice spokesman said: "Materials which are in a suitable condition will be passed on to other prisons for use.

"Resources which are deemed not fit for purpose will be disposed of or recycled.

 

"We need a fit for purpose, modern prison estate which provides affordable, modern prison accommodation and in the right places to deliver our ambition of reducing reoffending.

 

"In order to do this, we are currently replacing older prisons with newer, more efficient, accommodation at a much lower cost to the hard working taxpayer."

 

MP to discuss MOJ policies

 

WEST Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has questioned the National Offender Management Service over the issue.

 

A NOMS spokesman said: "Where assets cannot be re-distributed within the organisation, NOMS engages the Disposal Services Agency (DSA) to sell assets on our behalf where this represents value for money.

 

"The DSA will sell the assets at the best commercial cost and principally through their contractors. It is not considered appropriate to dispose of assets through staff sales or local sales arrangements.

 

"This ensures the agency acts with propriety in disposing of assets funded by the taxpayer, and protects against the risk of passing on potentially faulty goods to the public."

 

Mr Letwin said: "I understand their point, but find it rather bureaucratic. I'm going to discuss possible changes to the policy with ministerial colleagues at the MOJ."