Sex offenders now being housed at Hollesley Bay prison
Sex offenders are now being housed at an open prison in Suffolk, it has been confirmed.
The decision for sex offenders to be kept at Hollesley Bay prison, near Woodbridge, was made public in 2020 after being under consideration for the past five years.
No date was given as to when such inmates would be housed at the category D jail but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has now confirmed sex offenders are being held at the prison and face "strict conditions".
Hollesley Bay houses men aged 18 and over who have committed a variety of crimes. However, no sex offenders have previously been held there.
Villagers living close to the open prison have previously raised concerns about the decision, and launched a petition in 2019.
The petition, which obtained 1,145 signatures, stated the proximity of Hollesley Primary School and the fact there are areas open to the public nearby where children play.
Other concerns included possible absconders and such prisoners carrying out rehabilitation work in the community and helping at local events.
But a spokeswoman for Hollesley Parish Council said the authority had been informed by the new governor that a "very limited number" of sex offenders were now being held at the prison, with a "rigorous process" in place.
She added that the parish council has "very strong communication links" with the prison, and one of the deputy governors regularly attends the authority's meetings.
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James Mallinder, East Suffolk district councillor for Deben Ward, said the community generally "lives in harmony" with the prison.
"We work in partnership with prison," he said.
"We are aware they are there, and we are very happy that they are there, and they are also a source of employment locally.
"We understand the sex offenders have been fully assessed and we believe in the justice system of the UK.
"The governor's got a good relationship with the parish council and the community, and there is a degree of understanding between the community and the prison."
A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said: “Under this government more sex offenders are being convicted, going to prison, and spending longer there.
“Public protection is our priority – sex offenders are already held successfully at open prisons, including HMP Hollesley Bay, where they are carefully risk-assessed and face strict conditions.”