ARSONISTS can now be held in Ford Open Prison.
A unique agreement between the prison’s governor, John Wilson, and Arun District Council has been amended to enable the offenders to be moved there.
Arun’s cabinet members agreed on Monday to revise the deal –the only one in the country – to allow more inmates serving life sentences to be kept in the prison.
This follows a request from Mr Wilson to the council last summer.
Cllr Dudley Wensley, the council’s deputy leader, said: “It’s worth commenting, as we have done before, that we are the only council in the country that has such an agreement with its local prison.”
The fact the agreement would continue until February, 2016, was a tribute to council resources director and deputy chief executive Nigel Croad, he said.
“The prison are not obliged to enter into an agreement at all. The fact they have done is largely down to the relationship he has developed with them,” he said.
The agreement began in 1959 when the government decided to use part of the RN Air Station at Ford for a prison.
It is renegotiated every three years.
The latest changes were agreed in principle by the cabinet last September and finalised in recent weeks.
Ford has 200 life sentence prisoners out of 485.
Mr Wilson informed Arun the number of ‘lifers’ would rise under the new arrangement.
The focus would be on arsonists who were serving indeterminate longer sentences.
“This cohort we usually find present a lower risk of abscond and misbehaviour and are more suited to the resettlement regime here,” he wrote.
The agreement still states no sex offenders will be kept at the prison