HM Prison Durham

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HMP Durham
Durham Prison - - 228811.jpg
Durham Prison viewed from the main tower of the cathedral
Location Durham, County Durham
Security class Adult Male/Category B
Population 981 (as of October 2006)
Opened 19th century
Managed by HM Prison Services
Governor Tim Allen
Website Durham at

HM Prison Durham is a local Category B men's prison, located in the Elvet area of Durham in County Durham, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.


Durham Prison was built in 1819, and is adjacent to Durham's Crown Courts. The prison has held a variety of different categories of prisoners, both male and female over the course of its history. Numerous judicial executions took place on the gallows at Durham prison between 1869 and 1958. The final execution took place on 17 December 1958, when Private Brian Chandler (aged 20) was hanged for the murder of Martha Dodd during the course of theft. Chandler was a soldier, based at Catterick camp, who beat 83 year old Dodd to death with a hammer.[1][2][3]

In 2001, Durham (which was a Category A prison for men and women at the time) was praised by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for its progressive regime, integration of inmates and falling levels of violence.[4] However, in 2003 it was revealed that Durham had the highest suicide rate of all prisons in England.[5]

In 2004, a further report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised Durham Prison for being severely overcrowded. The report also highlighted the lack of education and work opportunities for inmates at the prison.[6]

HMP Durham previously operated a female high security wing with 120 prisoners but this was discontinued and the prisoners transferred elsewhere following reports from HM Inspectorate of Prisons concluding that HMP Durham was unsuitable for housing female prisoners, following several suicides.[7]

On 13 July 2011, it was announced that along with several other prisons, HMP Durham would be put up for market testing.[8]

A 2014 report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that a third of inmates tested positive for drug use, a rate almost twice as high as would be expected in similar prisons. Rates of violence were also higher than expected which indicated that monitoring should be improved. The prison was, however praised for the quality of work activity and learning available to prisoners.[9]

The prison today[edit]

Durham is currently a Category B local prison for convicted and remand adult male prisoners, primarily serving the courts of County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Teesside. Accommodation at the prison is divided into 7 wings plus Segregation and Healthcare sections.

Durham Prison offers full and part-time education to all inmates. Courses include data input, bricklaying, woodwork, painting and decorating, waste management and gardening.

Notable former inmates[edit]

Film and TV links[edit]

  • The 1980 British film McVicar starring Roger Daltrey is primarily set in Durham Prison.
  • The Prison is featured in Longford (2006) - Myra Hindley as an inmate


  1. ^ "Durham prison". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  2. ^ "Crime and Punishment in Durham: The History of Durham Prison". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  3. ^ Published on 12/06/2008 10:49 (1958-12-17). "1958: Last man hanged - News". Sunderland Echo. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  4. ^ "Progressive prison wins praise". BBC News. 2001-09-18. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  5. ^ "Durham Prison tops suicide table". BBC News. 2003-01-12. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  6. ^ "Report highlights overcrowding". BBC News. 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  7. ^ "Call to move 'She Wing' prisoners". BBC News. 2005-09-05. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  8. ^ "Two prisons to shut in efficiency bid, MoJ says". BBC News. 2011-07-13. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e "Crime and Punishment in Durham: The History of Durham Prison". Durham University. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  11. ^ "Rose West's prison unit to close". BBC News. 2004-05-27. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Irish Republican Female Prisons Account - Durham Prison
  14. ^ Innocent. "Guardian Newspaper: Guildford Four Ten Years On". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  15. ^ Ambushed: My Story - Judith Ward - Vermilion Books December 1995
  16. ^ "Durham Prison History Including Mary Anne Cotton - Also see Execution Section on Mary Anne Cottons Wiki Page". Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. [dead link]
  17. ^ a b "The Hood, The Bad and the Ugly - Scotsman Newspaper". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  18. ^ a b McVicar by Himself first published by Hutchinson's in 1974
  19. ^ "Straffen moved", The Times, 23 May 1968, p. 1 See Straffens Wiki Page
  20. ^ Carter, Helen; Weaver, Matthew (2010-07-05). "Police were warned of Raoul Moat's threat to harm ex-girlfriend". The Guardian (London). 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°46′24″N 1°34′05″W / 54.77333°N 1.56806°W / 54.77333; -1.56806