HM Prison Peterborough
|Security class||Category B/Adults & Young Offenders|
|Capacity||840 (August 2008)|
|Managed by||Sodexo Justice Services|
HM Prison Peterborough is a Category B private prison for men, and a closed prison for women and female young offenders, located in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. The prison is operated by Sodexo Justice Services, and is the only dual purpose-built prison holding males and females in the United Kingdom.
Peterborough Prison was built on the site of the former Baker Perkins engineering works. The prison opened in 2005, despite a great deal of protest from local residents. The Prison Service claimed at the time that Peterborough as a 'mixed-use' prison would become a blueprint for the prisons of the future. Peterborough Prison was soon involved in controversy however, when the jail advertised to recruit 2 holistic therapists to offer reflexology, aromatherapy and Indian head massages to inmates. The MP for Peterborough, Stewart Jackson accused the prison of pampering inmates and sending out the wrong message to hard-working families.
In January 2008, a national table of prisons compiled by the Prison Service revealed that Peterborough Prison had come last out of 132 prisons and prison clusters, with low marks for reducing re-offending, organisational effectiveness and decency. A month later, women prisoners at Peterborough complained that the food served at the jail was too high in calories, and made them put on weight. Officials at the prison claimed that healthy options were always available for inmates at mealtimes.
The prison today
Peterborough is a Category B prison for male and a closed prison for female adults, and female young offenders, and accepts adult male prisoners mainly from Cambridgeshire, although it often takes prisoners from further afield including the London area as and when there is a need, and females received from courts in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire plus the rest of England and Wales as required by the needs of the prison service. The prison's main use is for remand prisoners and, on the male side, those serving relatively short (up to 18 months) sentences. On the female side, because there are only a dozen or so prisons for women in England and Wales, it holds women serving anything up to life. There will also be male prisoners received from local courts who have received long sentences and they will be awaiting transfer to other more appropriate prisons. Although some prisoners are high profile, the prison service does not comment on who is being held where, so it is not known who may have travelled the furthest distance. While it was reported that Karen Matthews became the furthest inmate to arrive at the prison after a transfer from HMP New Hall, Wakefield, West Yorkshire it is extremely likely that others have travelled further.
In the female part of the prison, the main accommodation comprises two houseblocks, each containing five wings. The majority of the accommodation is single occupancy cells, and the wings hold on average 34 women. There is a Separation and Care unit and a 15-bed healthcare facility, which incorporates a first night centre for women who are new to custody. There is also a separate Mother and Baby Unit which can accommodate 12 inmates at a time.
In the male part of the prison, there are eight wings radiating from a central hub, and cellular accommodation is in both single and double cells. Each cell has integral sanitation and the wings each have shower facilities, a servery area plus an association area. There is a Separation and Care Unit which holds 14 prisoners.
There is also a Prison Visitor Centre which is operated by the Ormiston Children and Families Trust.
- "Mixed prison opens for inspection". bbc.co.uk. 9 March 2005. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- "Prison 'pampering' move angers MP". bbc.co.uk. 31 May 2005. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- "Private jails 'worse than public'". bbc.co.uk. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- "Women losing prison flab battle". bbc.co.uk. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- Karen Matthews transferred to Holiday camp The mirror online – Retrieved 27 May 2009