Holloway women’s prison in North London has closed and agents Bilfinger GVA have been appointed to advise the government on the sale of the land. Despite promises from government that improving prison conditions was a priority, the women of Holloway have simply been relocated to other prisons outside of the city making resettlement and family contact difficult.
There is a risk that the site will be sold without full consultation and input from the local community. Private developers usually dominate planning and consultation processes, so we want to bring people together to share ideas and options for the site. What happens at Holloway is incredibly important as it will set a precedent for the future development of other prison sites in London.
We believe there is an important opportunity to work together to build a local campaign to make sure local people and those affected by the criminal justice system are involved in, and benefit from, the decisions made about the Holloway prison site. There are many options that could be explored, including handing the land over to local authority control for council housing; offering supported housing and domestic violence refuges; community spaces.
What happens at Holloway prison is very important – a huge land grab is about to take place at multiple prison sites across England and Wales, with huge profits fed back into the prison system rather than for our communities.
We want to engage people in the bigger questions of how we tackle social problems without relying on criminal justice and prisons.
What do we want?
We want to see prison land reclaimed for the benefit of people experiencing homelessness, poverty and a range of other problems. We want social justice, not criminal justice.
Reclaim Holloway is about bringing people together to create spaces for social justice on prison land.
We are seeking to:
- Raise local awareness about the prison’s closure future development.
- Develop an online hub for information about Holloway’s development.
- Influence the shape / future of the site so that it benefits Londoners, the local community and those most in need.
- Consider alternatives to prison.
Why reclaim prison land?
As part of the government’s prison reform programme the Conservatives have announced that prisons are to be closed, the land sold, and money invested into the building of 5 new prisons before the end of 2020.
The UK has become over-reliant on police and prisons as a primary means for dealing with social problems. The number of people criminalised and sent to prison has spiralled out of control. Re-conviction rates remain high, victims’ needs are not met and social inequalities have continued to grow. The current use of imprisonment is unsustainable, unethical and ineffective in responding to social problems and harms.
We want to see an immediate moratorium on prison construction. We support plans for the closure and demolition of existing prisons. This is an opportunity for a fundamental rethink in how our society responds to harm. A key part of such an approach should be to strengthen welfare and local services – and scale back the number of people criminalised and imprisoned. We need to build safe and healthy communities – not prisons.