Guide to Maximum Security Prisons in the UK

Prison Info

Welcome to our guide to maximum security prisons in the UK. When it comes to the British correctional system, these institutions represent the highest level of security, housing prisoners who pose the greatest threat to public safety and order.

There are just eight facilities categorised as maximum security or high security in the UK. Let’s dive deep into understanding these critical installations in greater detail.

1. Belmarsh

Located in London and operationally active since 1991, Belmarsh has earned its status as one of the UK’s most notorious maximum security prisons. This high security complex has 4 main houseblocks and accommodates up to 900 inmates.

2. Frankland

Situated in County Durham, Frankland houses some of the UK’s most severe criminals. It opened in 1982, has five wings and holds more than 800 inmates.

3. Long Lartin

Found in Worcestershire, Long Lartin is another of the UK’s high security prison estates. Operational since 1971, the facility holds upwards of 600 inmates. It predominantly homes prisoners serving life sentences or those with long term sentences.

4. Full Sutton

Based in Yorkshire, Full Sutton is regarded as one of the UK’s toughest prisons and has been in operation since 1987. The prison consists of 4 main wings and holds nearly 600 prisoners who are considered high risk.

5. Whitemoor

Opened in 1991, Whitemoor is based in Cambridgeshire. The high security unit holds more than 450 prisoners and is notable for housing some of the UK’s most dangerous extremists.

6. Manchester

Previously known as Strangeways, the Manchester prison is a high-security goliath with a capacity for over 1200 prisoners. This historical facility has been crucial to the UK’s criminal justice system since 1868.

7. Woodhill

Located in Milton Keynes, Woodhill is a relatively new addition to maximum security in the UK, having opened in 1992. It has a diverse function, also operating as a local remand and allocation prison, but it does have a high security unit.

8. Wakefield

Known colloquially as the ‘Monster Mansion’, Wakefield prison has been active since 1594, making it one of the oldest high security prisons in Europe. It typically holds prisoners serving life and long-term sentences.

When it comes to security measures, there is no room for compromise. Each of these institutions feature a host of stringent security features and protocols, including high perimeter walls, exhaustive staff and visitor protocols, and state-of-the-art surveillance systems.

Being confined in a maximum security prison requires prisoners to live under strict regulations with limited privileges. Specific details about life in one of these prisons will be explored in a separate guide.

To wrap up, this guide should be an illuminating overview of the UK’s stringent maximum security prison system, a critical component in safeguarding the society and ensuring those who break the law face justice. Stay tuned for more insights and in-depth analysis of the UK prison system.

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