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Pentonville prison – 500 affordable homes would be better

March 29, 2010

The Prison Service should transfer the site to the Council for affordable housing

It is time to shut Pentonville Prison and use the site for affordable housing.

The prison is 170 years old and, when built, was a “Model Prison” constructed to a radical design. In the early 19th century, it had living conditions often better than the slums from which most of its inmates came.

But times really have changed and the prison is regularly criticised for its poor accommodation standards and for staff corruption and bad management. HM Inspector of Prisons in 2006 issued a damning report accusing the prison of “institutional disrespect” for its inmates. There seems little evidence things have improved since then.

Pentonville is mainly used for prisoners on remand (i.e. awaiting trial). Many are from North London so it is a “local” prison. When built, it stood on the outskirts of London mainly surrounded by market gardens and by fields with brick and tile ovens. But today it sits in a dense residential neighbourhood where shortage of affordable homes has become chronic.

Rupert Perry says “Islington Council has agreed to help supply just over 1,000 new homes a year every year for ten years – and half of these should be affordable. That’s a tough target to meet so we need sites like this which currently do not serve this community. Sure, prisoners need to be accommodated somewhere. But Pentonville Prison has really passed its use-by date. The site should be used for housing instead.

“Nobody denies there’s another side to the argument. The prison is a fairly accessible location for friends and family of prisoners. So would a new modern prison on a larger site somewhere closer to North London’s main arterial routes. The prison also employs quite a few people, some of whom use the shops and cafes on Cally Road. But 500+ new homes would actually generate far more business for local shops than a couple of dozen warders buying their lunch.”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Derbyshire permalink
    March 29, 2010 4:01 pm

    A new prison down near Kings Cross St Pancras stations would be more central there are good bus services up York way to acocomodate visitors and staff.

  2. March 30, 2010 9:19 am

    great idea

    Oxford prison was converted to a Malmaison Hotel. A prison expert i know tells me that it now costs less per night to house someone there than it did in its prison days



  3. Margaret Dudley-Parker (nee Hicks) permalink
    October 16, 2010 12:52 pm

    I used to live at Northwall Quarters with my family from 1949 – 1953 approx. My Father (Sidney Hicks) was a prison officer then. I went back there last week and couldn’t believe the state the flats were in. Can you tell me are they are still occupied by Prison Officers, if so what has happened to them as they almost look like slums from the Roman Way aspect?
    When I was living there the Prisoners used to do any decoarating that was required and if I rember correctly they were always very clean and tidy looking. I am hoping to get some answers from you.

  4. RUPERT PERRY permalink
    July 24, 2015 7:31 am

    At last it seems something may be happening with regard to Pentonville Prison.

  5. Rupert Perry permalink
    November 11, 2015 11:22 am

    As the closure of the prison becomes more likely, we are taking steps to have a planning brief for the site which will include the much needed social housing.


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