"I am deeply disappointed by this review. The Ministry of Justice have confirmed to us this week that they are not changing their position on local prison provision for Dorset." Dorset PCC, Martyn Underhill.


The reality is that, with very few exceptions, Dorset prisoners will be housed outside Dorset whether they are male or female, on remand or convicted. 

Both I and the people of Dorset, struggle to understand this. When I was elected, Dorset had a prison estate of four prisons – HMP’s Portland, Guys Marsh, Verne and Dorchester. With Dorchester now closed and The Verne designated for Immigration use, 14 months later, we now have two. It is frankly ludicrous.

A prison has to be close to a prisoner’s community to improve family links and community engagement. This will join up the geography of the prison estate with community provision so voluntary sector organisations deliver care that reflects their local needs. As Police and Crime Commissioner, providing support to prisoners and tackling re-offending is a key part of my role. Both will be difficult to provide remotely. Prisoners will struggle to maintain contact with their families and the provision of local ‘through the gate’ services will be adversely affected.

I am also disappointed by the confusion surrounding the prison provision debate in recent months. The Justice Minister confirmed to me in November that HMP Portland was to become a resettlement prison for Dorset. I then received another letter from the Minister in December stating that a mistake has been made and that a decision was still pending. Today we got that decision. Communication on this issue has been poor and confusing.

I would like to thank the Right Hon Oliver Letwin plus MPs Richard Drax and Conor Burns for joining me in lobbying Government over this issue. I will continue to lobby government to reverse this decision. I urge the Government and the Lord Chancellor to look again at the prison provision of Dorset.”

Notes To Editors:

Exeter/Winchester are local prisons for those on remand or serving twelve months or less. HMP Channings Wood will normally be the resettlement prison for those sentenced to over 12 months. Women will normally be housed at HMP Eastwood Park

Local Prisons

Offenders will go to a local prison or young offender Institution first if they have just been convicted or sentenced at court, are on remand and waiting for their trial. They will be given their security category here. They will either stay there or move to another prison or young offender institution. This depends on how long their sentence is. If they are sentenced to twelve months or less, they will normally stay at the Local Prison. Local prisons are all closed prisons.

Resettlement Prisons

The majority of those serving longer sentences, over 12 months, will be moved to a resettlement prison at least three months before the end of their time in custody. The nationwide network will include adult male local, training and open prisons. The resettlement prisons align with the government’s new 21 contract package areas (CPAs) across the country.

A list of the prisons and the contract package areas is below.

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