HM Prison Bronzefield
|Security class||Adult Female/Juvenile|
|Capacity||527 (December 2009)|
|Managed by||Sodexo Justice Services|
HMP Bronzefield is an adult and young offender female 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 media coverage, most notably about well-known prisoners, its supposedly lax regime, high staff turnover and continued extremely poor industrial relations.
In 2009, a 77-bed unit was built on the existing site, taking the operational capacity up to 527. Plans also exist to further expand the prison to include a male section along the lines of HMP Peterborough (also run by Sodexo Justice Services) making it a dual prison holding males and females.
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 for inmates who are taking part in resettlement programmes ahead of their release.
The prison today
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 about 140 prison custody officers, in a ratio of 50% female and 50% male officers. 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 in-patient facilities for 18 women, as well as a smaller 10-bed Help & Direction Unit.
Natasha Chin died after she had vomited continuously for nine hours and was not given medical attention or her prescribed medication. Prison officers asked healthcare staff to attend to Chin but healthcare staff did not respond. Expert medical witnesses told a coroner's inquest that if Chin’s condition been monitored and dealt with satisfactorily, her vomiting would have reduced. It is likely she would have survived if she had been moved to a hospital, experts said. Chin rang her cell bell but prison staff failed to respond because they did not know bells were faulty. The inquest jury found her death was due to “a systemic failure, which led to a lack of basic care”, and her death was “contributed to by neglect”. Since Chin’s death, three further deaths of women found unresponsive in cells at Bronzefield have happened. Earlier deaths and a several inspection reports from at least 2010 stated long established concerns about problems with healthcare services. The prison is run by Sodexo, an annual report and accounts for 2017/18 show the cost per prisoner at Bronzefield is £66,294, at least £10,000 higher than any other women’s prison. Deborah Coles, of INQUEST the Minister of Justice and Sodexo should be held accountable for not acting on repeated warnings about health care not being safe. Coles said, “Natasha’s death was a result of this indifference and neglect. It is shameful that women continue to die such needless deaths in prison. They failed to provide Natasha with even a basic duty of care. Urgent action is needed to dismantle failing women’s prisons and invest this money, not in private companies but in specialist women’s services to support women in the community.“
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, first night in prison and reception facilities, since however structures in staffing and management have changed these procedures. The report 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".
- Erwin James (2007-09-28). "The truth about 'Butlins behind bars' | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "Women's Institute sets up branch in women's prison - Odd News". Digital Spy. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- Woman's death in Surrey prison due to neglect, inquest rules The Guardian
- Death of woman in private UK prison caused by neglect and systemic failures, inquest rules The Independent
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bronzefield (HM Prison).|
- Ministry of Justice pages on Bronzefield
- Sodexo Justice Services information page on Bronzefield
- HMP Bronzefield - HM Inspectorate of Prisons Reports