Copper-raid criminals break into prison
Thieves ransack former Holloway jail site during ‘a number of break-ins’, as campaigners call for answers from Ministry of Justice
13 March, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
Thieves who broke into the former Holloway Prison left cables stripped of copper
HOLLOWAY Prison was broken into and ransacked by thieves who “smashed holes in the walls” stripping copper wires out of the cables.
Campaign groups have slammed the Ministry of Justice after it was confirmed that there have been “a number of break-ins” at the Victorian jail while it was under their supervision.
The Community Plan For Holloway (CPFH) and Reclaim Holloway have demanded answers from the MoJ over how much the thieves have made off with as the prison site was left in a chaotic state.
But the MoJ have stonewalled the campaigners by refusing to say anything more than admitting that the break-ins had occurred.
Mark Chandler, campaign lead at CPFH, told the Tribune: “I am aware of the break-ins. It is really shocking. We have seen inside and there are massive holes in the walls.
“Obviously, thieves have smashed into the walls with hammers as they tried to locate the wires. It would have been a loud and slow job. A lot of damage was caused.”
Images from within the prison show hundreds of metres of plastic and steel cable covers which have had the copper stripped out. They are piled high in storage rooms and dumped on the floor of gym studios in the prison.
Copper is a valuable metal as it conducts electricity. Scrap metal dealers have put a price of up to £4,000 a tonne for it.
Holloway Prison, built in the mid-1800s, was the biggest women-only prison in Europe before it was closed in 2016.
The site remained unoccupied for three years and the MoJ hired security to guard it. It was sold to Peabody in March 2019 for about £82million, including a £42million loan from the Mayor of London.
It is understood that a “large organised crime group with multiple vehicles” targeted the prison in January last year.
Jack Cheshire, a spokesman for Reclaim Holloway, said: “The security has clearly just been lax and we have a right to know how much was stolen from the prison.
“This disturbing story about yet more mismanagement and misappropriation of MoJ assets only focuses our resolve to work with the new owners and developers of HMP Holloway to achieve our ambitions for the Women’s Building.”
The Reclaim Holloway group is campaigning for an “iconic women’s building” to be built on the redeveloped site along with affordable housing.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “There were a number of break-ins at the former HMP Holloway site over a year ago.
“There were no squatters on the site and we stepped up security to prevent any repeat.”