Construction work to turn an ex-military camp in Lowu into a prison was postponed yesterday when villagers blocked the entrance and threatened violence. About 50 villagers from Ho Sheung Heung, aged between two and 88, gathered outside the camp to stop police and Buildings, Correctional Services and Home Affairs officials from entering the site. Villagers' representative and district board member Hau Kam-lam said residents were worried prisoners would threaten their lives and property. 'The prison is just next to our village. Only the aged, housewives and children are in the village during the day,' he said. Housewife Alice Hau Tong-tei, 44, said security worsened when the camp became a Vietnamese camp in 1989. 'Boat people stole our money, food and clothes while prisoners will do anything for money,' she said. The site served as a closed Vietnamese camp from 1989 to 1992, with a maximum capacity of 1,200. The Security Branch decided to turn it into a prison late last year after leaving it vacant for three years. Mr Hau accused the Government of neglecting villagers' views. 'We protested strongly in district board meetings many times but the Government ignored us,' he said. But North District Officer Yuen Man-chung said the Government had made concessions. A permanent prison with a capacity of 300 was originally planned for the site. 'But it is now changed to a temporarily one, with 200 prisoners at most,' he said. The departments promised not to start any work until a meeting with the villagers has been held.