HM Prison Feltham
|Security class||Juveniles/Young Offenders|
|Population||762 (as of February 2009)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Feltham at justice.gov.uk|
HM Prison Feltham (more commonly known as Feltham Young Offenders Institution) is a prison for male juveniles and Young Offenders Institution, located near the town of Feltham within the London Borough of Hounslow, in west London, England. Feltham Prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.
The original Feltham institution was built after 1857 and opened on 1 January 1859 as an Industrial School and was taken over in 1910 by the Prison Commissioners as their second Borstal institution. The existing building opened as a Remand Centre in March 1988.
The current institution was formed in 1991 as a result of a merger between Feltham Borstal and the Ashford Remand Centre. It is managed directly by Her Majesty's Prison Service, rather than management being contracted out to a private firm.
In recent years the Institution has been repeatedly criticised in reports for allegedly having a climate of racism amongst certain officers. The reports follow in the wake of the murder of Zahid Mubarek by his racist cellmate Robert Stewart on the day Mubarek was due to be released. The prison also has a notorious reputation for violent assaults both inside and outside of the prison service. Proposals made to distance HMP Feltham from its reputation included the suggestion of renaming it to 'HMP Bedfont Lakes'. However this proposition has met little support.
An inspection by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons was made in May 2005. The 2005 Report highlighted the progress made and praised the effective reception and induction procedures, the Outreach Team that deal with self-harm issues and the measures in place to deal with race relations issues. Voluntary sector work takes place within Feltham with a full-time voluntary sector co-ordinator managing the 25 plus agencies operating within Feltham.
Another inspection was made in July 2013 which was critical of what was considered "an excessive use of force" by prison staff in some incidents which had taken place in 2012 and "unacceptably high levels of violence" in the institution. The Howard League for Penal Reform said that the report revealed the prison to be a "frightening, violent, ineffective and astoundingly costly institution."
On 4 September 2013, the Ministry of Justice announced that it was undertaking a feasibility study on replacing the existing buildings at Feltham with a new larger adult prison and youth detention centre.
A 2014 inspection of the prison found that progress had been made in some areas but there were still some major concerns such as levels of violence remaining high, although with fewer incidents than previously, and prisoners having a lack of activities available and being kept locked up in cells for long periods.
The prison today
Young adults and juveniles occupy different residential units. Each residential unit is named after a bird. Units housing young offenders hold approximately 60 prisoners. Units housing juveniles hold 30 prisoners. Almost all the juvenile rooms are for single occupation. There is a mixture of double and single accommodation for young offenders (mostly double). All rooms have integral sanitation and TV and all areas operate the IEP scheme (incentives and earned privilege scheme).
The prison's regime includes education (full/part-time), workshops, vocational training in the construction industry, farms and gardens, works, and NVQs. Various types of offending behaviour groups are available. Other features include the use of voluntary agencies, one-to-one teaching, substance misuse work, and pre-release courses.
There are complaints about gangs in Feltham and violence between gang members. Violence can involve victims having their heads stamped on. There are further complaints that the prison 'warehouses' young offenders rather than turn their lives around. Prisoners may be locked in their cells for 23 hours a day amounting to solitary confinement. An unannounced inspection found the youth section was safe for neither staff nor boys and violence had also increased in the section for older young men. A serious assault on a staff member took place during the inspection. The prison was criticised for keeping some boys locked up so long they could not access basic amenities like showers. Health care was good and mental health care impressive. Efforts to resettle offenders back in the community after release were also good. Feltham is the most violent prison in England and Wales, in 2015 there were 894 attacks so serious a prisoner got official punishment.
Notable and former inmates
- Mohammad Amir, cricketer convicted for his part in the Pakistan cricket spot-fixing controversy.
- Ghetts, well renowned grime artist was sent to Feltham for robbery aged 16, when he was released in 2003 he immediately began pursuing a musical rather than criminal career.
- J Hus, rapper.
- Zahid Mubarek, inmate murdered by his cellmate at Feltham.
- Lee Murray, mixed martial arts fighter jailed for 10 years for masterminding a 2006 £53 million armed raid.
- Oliver Postgate, after he declared himself a conscientious objector (from his early childhood in 1942, former).
- Steve Peregrin Took, musician and songwriter, best known as the percussionist in Tyrannosaurus Rex, convicted 1969 for possession of drugs. His account of his time at the centre can be heard on Mick Farren's album Mona - The Carnivorous Circus.
- Crazy Titch, grime MC who is currently serving a life sentence for murder.
- Topiary (hacktivist), real name, Jake Davis. The spokesperson and PR man of the hacking groups Anonymous (group) and LulzSec. According to his Twitter feed, Davis was sent to Feltham and served 37 days.
- Richard Reid, the so-called 'shoe bomber' who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, is alleged to have converted to Islam whilst serving time in Feltham.
- Sneakbo, rapper from Brixton, served time in Feltham for threatening a female.
In popular culture
- Feltham Prison is the subject of the Hard-Fi track "Feltham Is Singing Out".
- Grime artist JME references Feltham in his track "Tottenham".
- The British film Scum (1979) features a story relating to British young offending institutions.
- "Providing for children: Feltham Industrial School". City of London. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "Report rebukes youth jail". BBC News. 11 November 2000.
- "'Widespread racism' at facility". BBC News. 22 December 2004.
- "HM YOI & RC Feltham: report of a short unannounced inspection". 23 November 2004. Archived from the original on 23 November 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Travis, Alan; editor, home affairs (10 July 2013). "Feltham young offenders institute condemned for violence and baton-use". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Nicholas Cecil Mark Blunden (29 July 2013). "Feltham young offenders institution to be replaced with adult prison". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "HMP/YOI Feltham – significant improvements, but still major concerns". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Life inside Feltham: 'I saw people's heads stamped on' BBC
- Feltham young offenders institution 'not safe for staff or boys' BBC
- "Salman Butt and Pakistan bowlers jailed for no-ball plot". BBC News. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.