Five prison managers are facing gross misconduct charges after being accused of moving two London jails ahead of visits by inspectors. A report by the inspector of Prisons said that in one case, Pentonville Prison was moved to Hertfordshire in exchange for Hatfield House. Prison inspectors were impressed by the comfortable furniture and facilities and splendid vistas, though they also expressed concern about the security risks of numerous medieval weapons and suits of armour displayed in the Grand Hall.
In another case, Holloway Prison was swapped with the Emirates Stadium down the road to create the impression that prisoners were getting enough exercise and enough space for their vegetable allotments. The plan came a little unstuck when inspectors questioned the use of a single bath for all the prisoners rather than separate shower cubicles. They also said the public address system might be a bit too loud for more sensitive prisoners.
However the National Offender Management Service said suspicions were only confirmed when visitors to the Emirates questioned why the Arsenal players were wearing blue uniforms and sewing mailbags, while National Trust members wondered why Hatfield House was surrounded by barbed wire and they were banned from taking large cakes into the stately home in case there were sharp objects hidden inside.
The Home Secretary has confirmed that the prisoner governors who attempted to deceive the inspectors could be prosecuted, and may face up to six months in Legoland.
21st October 2009