HM Prison Altcourse

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HM Prison Altcourse
HMP Altcourse.jpg
LocationLiverpool, Merseyside
Security classCategory B Adult Male & Young Offenders Institution
Capacity1324 (October 2016)
Managed byG4S
DirectorSteven William

HM Prison Altcourse is a Category B men's private prison and Young Offender Institution in the Fazakerley area of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. The prison is operated by G4S.


Altcourse became the first prison to be procured under a Private Finance Initiative contract when the contract was signed in December 1995.[1] It was built by Tarmac Construction and opened in December 1997.[2] While early reports about the management of the prison were favourable, the financing of the project drew criticism after it emerged that former owner GSL had managed to make a £10 million windfall from the contracts.[3] In 2005 it was reported that Altcourse was the most overcrowded prison in England with 1,324 inmates.[4]

In November 2009, the prison's own Independent Monitoring Board published a report which criticised the amount of illegal drugs that were being smuggled into Altcourse. The report suggested that mobile phones (which were also being smuggled into the jail) were helping to fuel the trade.[5] A month later, it emerged that inmates at Altcourse were being given access to satellite television as a reward for good behaviour.[6]

The prison today[edit]

Altcourse is a Category B local prison, receiving prisoners from the courts in Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales. The prison accepts young offenders and adult male prisoners who are both sentenced and remanded by the courts. Accommodation and facilities at the prison comprises six accommodation units, a First Night Centre, three Vocational Training residential units and the Healthcare Centre. The prison offers full-time education and night classes to inmates as well as workshops and offender management programmes.

The prison wings[edit]

Altcourse is separated into two main halves by facility buildings such as the segregation block, gymnasium, library, religious hall, education centre, and the first night centre. There are 7 main wings on the site which are all named after fences of the Grand National steeplechase course.[7] Each unit block is colour coded (eg. Melling Brown) for their ease of identification. Each block houses between 60 and 95 prisoners.[7]

  • Beechers: Detainees held on remand or short-term sentences.
  • Canal: Detainees held on medium-to-long term sentences and for detainees facing behavioural problems whom could also benefit from a more stringent regime.
  • Foinavon: Detainees with varying sentences and whom partake in workplace training schemes.
  • Furlong: Detainees held during their induction period (Usually 3 to 5 days) and for drug or alcohol users to detox before being integrated into the general population.
  • Melling: Vulnerable Prisoners (i.e. sex offenders, convicted former police and prison officers, debt etc.).
  • Reynoldstown: Induction wing.
  • Valentines: Detainees held on medium-long term sentences and partaking in vocational training schemes.

Young offenders are housed among adult prisoners with the exception of Reynoldstown.


  1. ^ "The PFI Contracts for Bridgend and Fazakerley Prisons" (PDF). National Audit Office. 31 October 1997. p. 66. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  2. ^ "LFC main stand, pest control and blacklisting. What hasn't Carillion done on Merseyside?". Liverpool Echo. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Liverpool's profitable prison". 26 September 2002 – via
  4. ^ "Altcourse Prison Top of League for Overcrowding". 16 August 2005. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Prison control in 'parlous state' BBC News, 5 November 2009
  6. ^ Inmates given satellite TV access BBC News, 17 December 2009
  7. ^ a b "HMP Altcourse: Prison regime information". Inside Time. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°27′43″N 2°56′08″W / 53.46194°N 2.93556°W / 53.46194; -2.93556