York & North Yorkshire

Final inmates leave Northallerton Prison

Northallerton prison
Image caption The prison housed around 250 inmates and was first built in the 1780s

The final inmates at a prison due to close by the end of the year have left the jail, the BBC has learnt.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced the closure of Northallerton Prison, North Yorkshire, in September as part of a modernisation programme.

A member of the prison's Independent Monitoring Board told the BBC the final two inmates were released this morning having completed their sentences.

The MoJ said the prison was on track to close by the end of the year.

Northallerton prison was built in 1783 and housed up to 252 male inmates when its closure was announced.

'Best prison'

The government said the modernisation programme would replace prisons that were either too expensive to run or needed substantial capital investment.

David Kerfoot, a member of the Independent Monitoring Board at the prison for 26 years, said: "It is a very emotional day for me.

"Much as I hate to say it I can understand some of the reasons why they want to close it. The majority of the cells are very small and for two people to be in a small cell is not as dignified as it should be perhaps."

One of the two former prisoners who left today told BBC Radio York it was the "best prison" he had ever been in.

The man, who did not give his name, said: "It is the only prison I've been in that has ever given me a chance.

"I've been in 14 jails now and that's the only one that has ever done anything for me. They have time for people."

About 135 people are employed at the jail and many officers have been temporarily deployed to other prisons in Yorkshire, the Prison Service said.

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