Protesters halt work at Northamptonshire's £253million new prison

"Direct action" halts work at Wellingborough site

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 10:19 am

Deliveries to construction workers at Northamptonshire's new £253million prison were halted after protesters sealed their arms into concrete barrels at the site entrance.

HMP Five Wells, being built by Kier on land formerly occupied by Wellingborough jail, will hold around 1,680 prisoners and is due to open in early 2022.

The group of about 15 'autonomous like-minded' protestors took direct action to stop delivery vehicles from reaching the site yesterday (Monday) with Northants Police keeping a presence at the scene.

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Protesters sealed their arms to barrels outside the NMP Five Wells entrance
Protesters sealed their arms to barrels outside the NMP Five Wells entrance

One protestor, who had encased their arm inside a concrete-filled oil drum, said: "We are autonomous, like-minded people, acting in solidarity against Kier.

"We are protesting against the privatisation of the prison system - a whole system that is motivated by profits.

"They will have to cut us out using power tools."

Another protestor said: "When the police were here we held a workshop on restorative justice.

A banner was placed in the entrance

"We will stay as long as possible. The police are coming back with power tools."

The new category C resettlement prison is taking shape on the same site as the former HMP Wellingborough.

This newspaper reported in October that G4S had been awarded the contract to run the new prison, creating 700 jobs.

Protestors had climbed into the building site complex and placed a banner on the offices.

At one point during the day the police presence was six to seven cars and more than a dozen officers.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: “We are currently dealing with a protest at the HMP Wellingborough site and are working to minimise disruption as much as possible to nearby businesses and the local community.

“Police officers will remain on scene and any offences committed by the protestors will be dealt with robustly.”

One worker who was supposed to be receiving deliveries on the site said: "They have stopped deliveries coming in but over 90 per cent of the construction work is already done.

"Around 900 people have been sent home - there's only about 200 left working today - but the protesters haven't gained anything."

Kier was awarded the multi million contract by the Ministry of Justice under its Prison Estate Transformation Programme for the new prison.

A Kier spokesman said: “We respect everyone’s right to a peaceful protest. HMP Five Wells replaces the former HMP Wellingborough and provides modern facilities, creating a safe and secure environment to encourage rehabilitation.”