After 222 years, HMP Gloucester's last prisoners leave
AFTER 222 years, the last prisoners have left HMP Gloucester.
History is being made today as the jail shuts its doors to visitors for the last time.
Gloucester city MP Richard Graham said: "My understanding is that all prisoners have now been relocated from HMP Gloucester. This is about a month ahead of schedule and my understanding is that the focus is now on de-commissioning the prison.
"They will now focus on the removal of security and other Ministry of Justice equipment before the prison is formally closed at the end of March.
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"Some staff are already helping at other prisons, and many have just received notice of alternative jobs elsewhere or the voluntary redundancy package."
The prison, which was home to 350 inmates, was closed as part of a Ministry of Justice shake-up of the Prison Service.
Gloucester City Council leader Paul James said: "The closure wasn't supposed to be for a few weeks but it has happened very quickly."
Five other small prisons have also been shut to pave the way for a new super-prison which could hold up to 2,000 inmates.
Relatives of prisoners, who will now have to travel miles for visits, are being supported by Gloucestershire police and crime commissioner Martin Surl.
He said: "It has all come as a bit of a shock. We were not consulted on it.
"I will be working closely with the Prison Service because it is important that relatives know how prisoners are being rehabilitated elsewhere."
InfoBuzz, which supports families of inmates, has shut down its services at the prison.
Spokesman Christian Horton said: "Prisoner numbers have been reducing so we stopped our crèche and snack bar."
The race is now on to find a new use for the site, with plush hotel chain Malmaison already saying they would be interested.
A Prison Service spokesman declined to comment.