Iceland Mag

5 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

General

New sign to help guards keep confused travellers from trespassing on prison grounds

By Staff

  • The new sign Previously the only sings telling motorists they were entering prison grounds were the red notices. Photo/Afstaða, Facebook.

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority has put up a new sign by the road to Kvíabryggja minimum security prison in West Iceland to help keep foreign travellers at bay. Prison guards have been struggling to defend the prison and its grounds from hordes of travellers who think it is a visitor center for nearby Kirkjufell mountain, one of Iceland's most photographed and picturesque mountains.

Read more: 26 bankers already sentenced to a combined 74 years in prison

The best known prisoners at the minimum security prison at Kvíabryggja have unquestionably been the jailed former bankers, including the top management of Kaupþing bank. The road to the prison is not closed with a gate and guard, as Kvíabryggja is maintained as an "open" minimum security prison. This seems to have confused travellers who think this means anyone can waltz right onto the prison grounds.

Chinese travellers particularly frequent guests

Kirkjufell, Grundarfjörður, Vesturland, West Iceland

Kirkjufell Standing across the fjord from Kvíabryggja prison is one of the most photographed and picturesque mountains in Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The Association of Icelandic Prisoners explains that prison guards at Kvíabryggja have traditionally spent more time trying to chase sheep off the prison grounds than to stop inmates from trying to escape.

In recent years, however, the guards have been struggling to deal with a new problem, "the most pressing problem facing the guards at Kvíabryggja has been to keep foreign travellers, primarily Chinese travellers, away from the prison grounds."

Read more:  Bankers Behind Bars: A guided walking tour through the collapse of Iceland's banking system in 2008

Not a day goes by at the prison without guards having to turn travellers away from the prison grounds. Tour buses full of tourists have been turned away from the prison parking lot just as they were unloading hordes of passengers eager to capture photographs of Kirkjufell mountain.

Travellers ignored previous signs
Previously the road leading to the prison was marked with a large red sign reading "PRISON", as well signs explaining the road was closed to all unauthorized traffic.

Many travellers ignored these signs.  Friday the IRCA added a new sign, showing that beyond the that point photographing is illegal as well as stressing the road was for "Authorized personnel only". "It's going to be exciting to see if the new sign can deter tourists," The Association of Icelandic Prisoners states in a post on Facebook.

The chief of the prison told the local news site Vísir that while the visiting travellers have not caused serious problems, the guards and prison authorities have grown tired of their visits and the waste of time involved in explaining to people that they are trespassing on prison grounds.

Related content

Editor's Picks