IT was a pioneering move when the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) began its work within Winchester prison.

Now for a quarter of a century inmates have had access to confidential interviews and advice.

On Wednesday, January 15, the mayor of Winchester, Councillor Frank Pearson, marked the milestone with a reception at Abbey House, attended by prison officers and advisors from Winchester District CAB.

Cllr Pearson said: “This is essential work. A lot of these guys get into trouble because of a lack of guidance. Most of us have family around us to rally around and help.

“But a lot of men and women who find themselves in prison do not have the family support, so any advice the service can lend is going to be incredibly useful,” he said.

Winchester CAB chief executive, Jenny Meadows, said: “We are delighted that the Mayor has offered to host an event to celebrate this occasion.

“To provide an unbroken service over such a long period of time is remarkable. We thank the prison governors over the years for allowing this to continue and long may it do so.”

By 1988 many CAB were involved in pre-release courses, but it was Winchester who started conducting confidential interviews inside the prison. The bureau tries to have a weekly rota of at least four volunteers to visit the site on Romsey Road.

Enquiries are generally about finance or debt, welfare benefits and housing issues that have been left unresolved during the inmate’s sentence.

The Winchester CAB manager in 1988, Shirley Dodd, said in a report: “A steady flow of prisoners to our advice sessions indicates that we are needed...Working in prison is not all plain sailing.”