HM Prison Bedford
Bedford Prison (new block)
|Security class||Adult Male/Category B|
|Population||506 (as of August 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Bedford at justice.gov.uk|
The prison has been on its current site since 1801 and was designed by the architect John Wing, who also designed the Bedford town bridge. The previous site was on the corner of the High Street and Silver Street, then known as Gaol Lane. The location is marked with a plaque in the pavement due to its connection with John Bunyan, being the probable place where he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress. Wing's original building included "...a turnkey's lodge, cells for debtors, felons and house of correction prisoners, hot and cold baths and an oven to purify infected clothing. The silence system was enforced with great severity, wooden partitions being placed between any two prisoners at work on the treadmill. Separate exercise was allowed in the yards, and meals were taken in the cells." The prison has been twice expanded, in 1849 and 1990.
In December 2009, the prison's own Independent Monitoring Board issued a report citing concerns over the high amount of prisoners serving life sentences being held at Bedford. The report praised mental healthcare provision and highlighted staff morale, prisoner's property and the visits booking line of the prison. However, the report praised levels of respect between staff and inmates at the jail, along with the prison's food provision and hygiene standards.
In June 2010, a female prison officer from Bedford was convicted after it emerged that she had a sexual relationship with an inmate from the gaol. The prison officer had also smuggled a mobile phone, food, tobacco and newspapers into the prison for the inmate while he served his sentence.
In September 2012, it was revealed that Bedford Prison had the highest suicide rate of any prison in England and Wales during 2011/12. 4 inmates committed suicide at the prison during this period, out of a population of 465 inmates.
The prison today
Bedford is a local prison holding Category B male prisoners who have been remanded from Luton Crown Court and all magistrates' courts in Bedfordshire. The term 'local' means that the prison holds people on remand to the local courts, as well as sentenced prisoners.
There is a split regime operating within the prison, offering work and education is offered on a part-time basis. There is a resettlement unit within the prison, a daily library provision, and gymnasium available. The prison hosts a healthcare centre with 12 beds and 24-hour health care coverage, while those prisoners who may be at risk from suicide or self-harm are provided a prisoner listener scheme.
The Ormiston Children and Families Trust runs the Visitors Centre, which features wheelchair access, a children's play area with supervised play activity and baby changing facilities. Two Quiet Gardens, affiliated to The Quiet Garden Trust, have been established inside the prison for quiet contemplation and prayer for both prisoners and staff.
Notable former inmates
- James Hanratty - eighth to last person in Britain to be executed for murder. Hanged Wednesday, 4 April 1962
- Alfred Rouse - hanged Tuesday, 10 March 1931, for the Blazing car murder at Hardingstone which attracted sensational national interest. Rouse was tried at Northampton Assizes.
- Victoria County History. pt 25 (Bedfordshire ed.). p. 24.
- "Bedford Prison". Her Majesty's Prison Service. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- Knowles, Keeley (13 December 2009). "Report reveals the dark cloud hanging over prison workers". Bedfordshire on Sunday. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Sex act pregnant prison officer faces jail". BBC News. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Bedford Prison - Regime". Her Majesty's Prison Service. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Making a noise about peace and quiet". Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). 29 April 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2012.