A PRISON which was torched by rioting inmates in 2011 can now hold arsonists.
A unique agreement between the Ford Open Prison’s governor, John Wilson, and Arun District Council has been amended to enable convicted arsonists to be held there.
Arun’s cabinet agreed on Monday to alter 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.
Arun’s deputy leader, councillor Dudley Wensley, said: “It’s worth commenting, as we have done before, we’re the only council in the country that has such an agreement with its local prison.”
Mr Wensley praised the council’s resources director and deputy chief executive, Nigel Croad, for arranging the deal.
He said: “The prison is 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.”
The agreement began in 1959 and 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.
The number of ‘lifers’ would rise under the new arrangement, Mr Wilson said. However, the focus would be on arsonists who were serving indeterminate longer sentences.
Sex offenders will not be held at Ford.