HM Prison Birmingham
|Location||Winson Green, Birmingham, West Midlands|
|Security class||Adult Male/Category B&C|
|Capacity||1450 (January 2006)|
HM Prison Birmingham is a Category B/C men's prison, located in the Winson Green area of Birmingham, England. The prison was formerly operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. It is now managed by G4S .
Birmingham is a Victorian prison, built in 1849.
Numerous judicial executions by hanging took place at the prison until the abolition of capital punishment in the UK. A total of 35 executions took place at Birmingham prison during the 20th century. The last person ever to be hanged at the prison was a 20-year-old Jamaican named Oswald Augustus Grey. He was executed on 20 November 1962 after being convicted of the shooting death of newsagent Thomas Bates during the course of a robbery in Lee Bank Road on 3 June 1962. Christopher Simcox, a double-murderer, was scheduled for execution at Birmingham prison on Tuesday, 17 March 1964, but was reprieved.
In 1995, Birmingham was criticised by its own Board of Visitors for being soft on prisoners. This arose after allegations that one inmate had gone on two weeks' holiday to Minorca, while being released for weekend leave.
In January 1999 an inspection report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons attacked conditions at Birmingham, describing the health centre in the jail as the "untidiest and dirtiest" inspectors had ever come across. The report also criticised the prison for its lack of a sex offender treatment programme, the lack of employment and education opportunities, and the inadequate bathing arrangements where some inmates were only being allowed a full wash three times a week.
In March 2001 the Chief Inspector declared that conditions had worsened in Birmingham Prison where around 11% of inmates had claimed to have been assaulted by prison officers. One particular incident involved a mentally-disturbed prisoner who had been denied a wash or change of clothes for weeks because staff thought he was faking his illness.
In 2002 the prison was expanded as a result of a multimillion-pound investment programme by the Prison Service. 450 additional prisoner places were added together with new workshops, educational facilities, a new healthcare centre and gym as well as extensions and improvements to existing facilities. Two years later, a report from the Chief Inspector found that conditions at Birmingham had substantially improved, stating that the prison was a place where "positive attitudes are firmly embedded".
In November 2007 the Independent Monitoring Board warned in a report that overcrowding at Birmingham was putting prisoners and staff at risk. The report stated that if overcrowding was not tackled, then there was a potential for unrest. Two years later, the Board issued another report that criticised levels of overcrowding at Birmingham Prison. The report also noted that inmates from the jail were being transferred to prisons further north, to accommodate increased prisoner levels from the South-East of England.
Birmingham became the first publicly built, owned and operated prison in the UK to be transferred to the private sector. G4S formally took over the day-to-day running of the prison in October 2011.
The following people were executed in Birmingham Prison between 1885 and 1962:
|Executed person||Age||Date executed||Victim(s)|
|Henry Kimberley||53||17 March 1885||Emma Palmer|
|George Nathaniel Daniels||34||28 August 1888||Emma Hastings (21)|
|Harry Benjamin Jones||25||28 August 1888||Florence Harris, a child|
|Frederick Davies||40||26 August 1890||his wife|
|Frederick William Fenton||32||4 April 1894||Florence Elborough (24)|
|Frank Taylor||21||18 August 1896||Mary Lewis (10)|
|John Joyce||36||20 August 1901||John Nugent (61)|
|Charles Samuel Dyer||25||5 April 1904||Martha Eliza Simpson (21, girlfriend)|
|Samuel Holden||43||16 August 1904||Susan Humphries (35, girlfriend)|
|Frank Greening||34||13 August 1913||Elizabeth Ellen Hearne (27, girlfriend)|
|William Allen Butler||39||16 August 1916||Florence Beatrice Butler (29)|
|Louis Van Der Kerkhove||32||9 April 1918||Clemence Verelst (35, girlfriend)|
|Henry Thomas Gaskin||27||8 August 1919||Elizabeth Gaskin (23, wife)|
|Samuel Westwood||26||30 December 1920||Lydia Westwood (24, wife)|
|Edward O'Connor||43||22 December 1921||Thomas O'Connor (5, son)|
|Elijah Pountney||48||11 August 1922||Alice Gertrude Pountney (47, wife)|
|William Rider||40||19 December 1922||Rosilla Patience Barton (24, bigamous wife)|
|John Fisher||58||5 January 1926||Ada Taylor (56, girlfriend)|
|George Sharples||20||13 April 1926||Milly Illingworth Crabtree (25)|
|James Joseph Power||32||31 January 1928||Olive Gordon Turner (18)|
|Victor Edward Betts||21||3 January 1931||William Thomas Andrews (63)|
|Jeremiah Hanbury||49||2 February 1933||Jessie Payne (39, girlfriend)|
|Stanley Eric Hobday||21||29 December 1933||Charles William Fox (24)|
|Dorothea Nancy Waddingham||36||16 April 1936||Louisa Baguley (89), Ada Baguley (50)|
|Peter Barnes||32||7 February 1940||Elsie Ansell (21), John Arnott (15), James Clay (81),
Rex Gentle (30), and Gwilym Rowland (50)
|James Richards||29||7 February 1940|
|Eli Richards||45||19 September 1941||Jane Turner (64)|
|Arthur Peach||23||30 January 1942||Kitty Lyon (18)|
|Harold Oswald Merry||40||10 September 1942||Joyce Dixon (27, girlfriend)|
|William Quayle||52||3 August 1943||Vera Clarke (8)|
|James Farrell||19||29 March 1949||Joan Mary Marney (14)|
|Piotr Maksimowski||33||29 March 1950||Dilys Doreen Campbell (30, girlfriend)|
|William Athur Watkins||49||3 April 1951||Unnamed illegitimate son (newborn)|
|Horace Carter||31||1 January 1952||Sheila Ethel Attwood (11)|
|Leslie Green||29||23 December 1952||Alice Wiltshaw (62)|
|Frederick Arthur Cross||33||26 July 1955||Donald Haywood Lainton (28)|
|Corbett Montague Roberts||46||2 August 1955||Doris Acquilla Roberts (41, wife)|
|Ernest Charles Harding||42||9 August 1955||Evelyn Patricia Higgins (10)|
|Dennis Howard||24||4 December 1957||David Alan Keasey (21)|
|Matthew Kavanagh||32||12 August 1958||Isaiah Dixon (60)|
|Oswald Augustus Grey||20||20 November 1962||Thomas Bates (47)|
The prison today
Education and training at Birmingham Prison is provided by Milton Keynes College. Learning programmes for inmates include basic and key skills, bricklaying, plumbing, painting and decorating, carpentry, joinery, forklift truck training, industrial cleaning, catering, textiles, barbering, information technology, business, creative arts and performing arts. All courses lead to qualifications such as NVQs, and there is the option for further study with the Open University.
The Prison Library Service is provided by Birmingham City Council's Library Services, and all prisoners have access to the service. As well as facilities for independent learners, the library has special collections on law, employment, health, community information, English as a second or other language (ESOL), and basic skills materials. There is also a Learning Centre within the library to provide additional learning support to those with dyslexia and ESOL needs.
Physical Education at Birmingham is provided on a daily basis over a 7-day period, and evenings over 5 days. There are a number of sports delivered and also sports related subjects from basic skills to NVQ Level 2 in Sports and Recreation.
Birmingham has a prison chaplaincy with full-time chaplains from the Church of England, Roman Catholic, Free Church and Muslim faiths. There are also sessional staff from the Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu faiths.
- The prison is mentioned in the book The Third World War: August 1985 in which it and the city of Birmingham are destroyed by a Soviet nuclear warhead.
- The prison is featured in the 2009 grime film 1 Day.
- Winson Green is featured in episode 3 season 2 of Peaky Blinders.
Notable former inmates
- Charlie Wilson, imprisoned for his part in the Great Train Robbery, he escaped the prison on 12 August 1964. He was recaptured on 24 January 1968 in Canada.
- Ozzy Osbourne, later frontman of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, served six weeks after he was arrested for breaking and entering and theft in 1966.
- Fred West, serial killer who arrived on remand in May 1994. He committed suicide in his cell on 1 January 1995, before he could be brought to trial.
- Lee Hughes, former West Bromwich Albion striker, spent the early part of his six-year jail term for dangerous driving at the prison in 2004.
- Michael Collins, Irish revolutionary spent a short term at this prison after the Easter rising in 1916.
- "HMP Birmingham Contacts". hmpbirmingham.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
- "G4S will take over 1,400-inmate jail in October'". BBC. 1 July 2011.
- "newsagent murdered fifty years ago this month". The Brew 'Us Bugle. Ladywood History Group (36). Summer 2012.
- "Jail conditions attacked". BBC. 13 January 1999.
- "Jail 'among worst in UK'". BBC. 15 March 2001.
- "Report praises Birmingham Prison". BBC. 24 September 2004.
- "Overcrowding fears at city prison". BBC. 20 November 2007.
- "Prison inmates 'forced to move'". BBC. 29 January 2009.
- "Birmingham Prison: 123 jobs could go". BBC News. 1 July 2011.
- Ministry of Justice pages on HMP Birmingham
- G4S pages on HMP Birmingham
- HMP Birmingham - HM Inspectorate of Prisons Reports