Arts centre near prison to be turned into hostel for newly-released inmates

Neighbours have blasted plans to turn an arts centre into a hostel for newly released jailbirds.

The Ministry of Justice wants to transform the Old Governor’s House near the entrance to HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

The notorious West London jail is a Category B men’s prison for inmates serving 10 years or more, including sex offenders and armed burglars.

Its Governor’s House is a three-storey Victorian property currently used by a prison charity to display lags’ artwork.

Plans to turn it into an Approved Premises for prisoners on licence have been blasted by prison officers, locals and the area’s Labour MP Andy Slaughter.

Mr Slaughter, shadow solicitor general, said: “Approved premises house the highest risk offenders including terrorists and sex offenders on release from custody. Their location is sensitive for rehabilitation and protection of the public.”

Locals pointed out there was a primary school nearby and claimed ex-cons had already been bothering girls in the area.

Ray Bateman, 78, said: “It’s dangerous – I don’t like the idea at all and most people around here are the same.”

Angela Davies, 52, said: “I know people are being rehabilitated and you’re hoping they’ve learned from their mistakes but you just don’t know.” Vanessa Peart, 51, added: “I try to be a fair person but I have a young daughter living at home. I would feel slightly unsafe.”

If the plan goes ahead, an extension will be added to the £1.5million building for 18 ensuite ­single rooms as well as communal areas and a residents’ courtyard.

Prisoners could also be sent there from other prisons, as well as Wormwood Scrubs.

Mark Fair-hurst, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “We must protect our staff and all those that visit Wormwood Scrubs. Abandon this crazy and dangerous idea now.”

The Government wants to create 200 extra bail hostel places across England and Wales, with London seen as having a particular shortage.

Justice Minister Kit Malthouse said: “Premises will be staffed by the Probation Service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Residents’ movements are restricted and there will be regular drug and alcohol testing.” The Ministry of Justice would not comment further.

Former inmates of Wormwood Scrubs include Libertines singer Pete Doherty, EastEnders legend Leslie Grantham, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and Moors murderer Ian Brady.