Mystery surrounds a sinkhole which has opened up in the grounds of Bovingdon’s The Mount prison.
The cavity in land next to the Category C jail – which has recently undergone a major building and refurbishment programme – is currently fenced off while it is being investigated.
Prison officials would not comment on the exact size and depth of the sinkhole, or whether or not surveys are being carried out to determine whether there are further risks of ground movement.
The land on which the sinkhole has appeared is owned by the Ministry of Justice, which confirmed it is looking at future options for the site. The sinkhole was reported to the geographic information systems firm ESRi UK as having appeared on January 17, and was allegedly around 15ft deep at the time.
The person who alerted the company also reported that an attempt to fill it in with concrete and soil had been made before it collapsed again in February.
The Ministry of Justice would not confirm this but a spokesperson for the government department, said: “We are aware of an issue regarding the land next to HMP The Mount and are working to resolve it. “There is no risk to members of the public, prisoners or prison staff as the area has been fenced off and is on private property with no public access.
“We are still in discussions with the Homes and Communities Agency regarding future options for the surplus land.
“The Ministry of Justice is required to dispose of any surplus property as quickly as possible while ensuring we get the best value for taxpayers’ money.”
A giant sinkhole in Hemel Hempstead’s Oatridge Gardens estate, which opened up in February 2014, was thought to have been caused by former chalk mines beneath the surface of the ground, exacerbated by the previous winter’s heavy rain.
Infilling work has also taken place at the town’s Nash Mills area as more chalk mines – located around Highbarns, Pond Road and East Green – affected around 430 homes. The mines are thought to have been dug in the 19th century to produce chalk for papermaking at John Dickinson.
We are aware of an issue regarding the land next to HMP The Mount and are working to resolve it.Ministry of Justice