HM Prison, Jamestown on Wednesday, May 6 hosted a “topping out ceremony” to mark the completion of fire safety works.
Works began in early 2019 after the building was condemned for its poor fire safety.
Prison Manager Heidi Murray was keen to praise the Chilled Express team for finding innovative ways of solving problems. The company’s works included fitting new walls, roofing, electrical work and building new fire escapes. Locks were changed to make it easier to evacuate prisoners.
Heidi also thanked the prison staff and prisoners themselves for enabling the project.
“[Chilled Express] have done things that we didn’t think was possible,” Heidi said. “[And] thanks to everyone who has taken part, because we have managed to run a prison in a building site – and that has got to be a first!”
Although these works were focused on fire safety, they went a long way to addressing concerns raised in the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Prison Report that was released in December 2018.
As an example, during construction works ventilation systems were added to the gym and cells. This improved airflow and lowered temperatures, which was an action requested in the report.
Unfortunately, despite all the works, the 150-year-old HM Prison is still not fit for purpose. Overseas Territory Prison Advisers and the EHRC have condemned the building as unfit, as it does not conform to human rights standards.
However, Heidi said that if/when the prison does relocate, the current renovations will not go to waste as the updates mean the building could be used for other purposes long into the future.
“The building is still not fit for purpose, so I’m still pushing for that new prison,” Heidi said. “But I would like to think that we have left a legacy and prolonged the life of the building.”