HM Prison Bronzefield

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HMP Bronzefield
HM Prison Bronzefield aerial 2011.jpg
Location Ashford, Surrey
Status Operational
Security class Adult Female/Juvenile
Capacity 527 (December 2009)
Opened 2004
Managed by Sodexo Justice Services
Director Helga Swidenbank

HMP Bronzefield is a Category A adult and young offender female's prison located on the outskirts of Ashford in Surrey, England. Bronzefield is the only purpose-built private prison solely for women in the UK, and is the largest female prison in Europe. The prison is operated by Sodexo Justice Services.


Bronzefield Prison was opened in June 2004 as the UK's new top security prison for women.

Since its opening Bronzefield has been the subject of many news articles in the tabloid press, most notably about well-known prisoners, its supposedly lax regime and continued poor industrial relations.[1]

In 2009, a 77 bed unit was built on the existing site, taking the operational capacity up to 527.

In 2012 it was reported that Bronzefield was the first prison in the UK to have its own branch of the Women's Institute. The branch is for members of staff and inmates who are taking part of resettlement programmes ahead of their release.[2]

The prison today[edit]

HMP Bronzefield

HM Prison Bronzefield is currently one of only two prisons to house Category A prisoners in the female estate (female and juvenile category-A prisoners are called "restricted status" prisoners). The prison is staffed by approx 160 prison officers which has a ratio of 60% female and 40% male officers to reflect the need for a women's prison. Bronzefield is also a local prison, taking prisoners directly from the courts. Bronzefield holds a wide range of female offenders, including remand, sentenced and restricted status women.

Accommodation at Bronzefield is divided into four main residential units, each holding approximately 135 women. The prison also has a 12 bed Mother and Baby Unit, accommodating children up to 18 months old. Bronzefield has a Level 4 Healthcare provision with inpatient facilities for 18 women, as well as a smaller 10-bed Help & Direction Unit.

Bronzefield offers full-time education courses including Art, ESOL and Information Technology. There are also workshops in Painting and Decorating, Cleaning Science and Arts and Crafts.

A 2013 report by the chief inspector of prisons praised the institution for its efforts to tackle alcohol problems and self-harm, improvements in health care, and its induction and reception facilities. However it was condemned their segregation practices, in particular for keeping a prisoner in segregation for five years in bad conditions, treatment which "appears to amount to torture".[3][4]

Notable inmates[edit]


  1. ^ Erwin James (2007-09-28). "The truth about 'Butlins behind bars' | Comment is free |". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  2. ^ "Women's Institute sets up branch in women's prison - Odd News". Digital Spy. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  3. ^ Saul, Heather (21 August 2013). "'Cruel, inhumane and degrading': Female prisoner kept segregated in 'squalid' cell for five years". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  4. ^ HMP Bronzefield prisoner segregated for more than five years

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°25′58″N 0°29′03″W / 51.432889°N 0.484096°W / 51.432889; -0.484096