HM Prison Bristol

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HMP Bristol
Horfield Prison, Bristol.jpg
Horfield Prison, Bristol
HM Prison Bristol is located in Bristol
HM Prison Bristol
Location in Bristol
LocationBristol, England
Coordinates51°28′51″N 2°35′32″W / 51.48083°N 2.59222°W / 51.48083; -2.59222Coordinates: 51°28′51″N 2°35′32″W / 51.48083°N 2.59222°W / 51.48083; -2.59222
Security classAdult Male/Category B
Population638 (as of February 2012)
GovernorSteve Cross

HMP Bristol (previously known as Horfield Prison) is a Category B men's prison, located in the Horfield area of Bristol. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.


Bristol's history includes fourteen executions, of which the last took place on 17 December 1963 when Russell Pascoe was hanged for the murder of William Rowe during a robbery. His accomplice Dennis Whitty met the same fate at HMP Winchester on the same morning.

There have been riots at HMP Bristol in 1986 and 1991. Major internal damage was caused to prison wings on both occasions.

The prison aroused controversy in 1996 when it was revealed that prisoners were sometimes transported to and from Bristol by a stretched limousine. Officials claimed the limo was only used when commercial taxis were not big enough to handle multiple prisoner transfers with prison officers as security.[1] Soon after Bristol was upgraded to a Category A prison (part of the high security estate) holding the most dangerous prisoners.

A report from the Board of Visitors in 2000 criticised Bristol Prison for keeping some remand inmates on a punishment regime in segregation.[2] Bristol faced more criticism in 2002 when it emerged that a shortage of staff nurses had resulted in the prison paying out thousands of pounds for agency nursing staff.[3] A year later, Bristol was downgraded back to a Category B local prison, after repeated overcrowding and safety concerns from nearby residents. [4]

Bristol Prison came in for more criticism in 2005 after a report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons cited inconsistent management, poor safety, and negative race relations at the jail.[5] A year later officers at the prison reported rising levels of violence due to widespread use of heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis among inmates.[6]

An Independent Monitoring Board[7] report published in 2011 stated that HMP Bristol had an annual budget of £14.2 million. This report identified issues with prisoners clothing and equipment as well as the provision of hygiene facilities. It also highlighted improvements on the previous year with respect to resettlement services and visits. The overall judgement of this report was "significant and continued improvement."


Records of Horfield Prison are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 41405) (online catalogue). Other records are held at the National Archives.[8]

The prison today[edit]

Bristol Prison currently holds adult males and YOI prisoners (18 to 21 years old) on remand to the local courts as well as convicted prisoners, including prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment and indeterminate sentences for public protection. It also acts as a Category B facility for the southwest of England.

The establishment was heavily criticised following an unannounced inspection in May 2013, in which it was reported that staff "racially abused" inmates, and on one occasion denied food to a serving prisoner. The same inspection also discovered that over half the population - a significant number of whom were unconvicted - spent 23 hours a day locked in a cell. [9]

Drugs are smuggled into Bristol Prison leading to prisoners behaving unpredictably and being sometimes violent. Numbers of prison officers have also fallen since 2010. Violence is a problem with staff and prisoners being injured. Prison officers are reluctant to assert their authority and feel unsupported when violence happens due to low staffing numbers. Recruiting prison officers is difficult.[10]

The prison provides courses in inter-personal skills and enhanced thinking as well as employment training. Some prisoners are employed in the prison workshops, kitchen, gymnasium or as cleaners on the wings. In addition there is a 24-hour listeners scheme operating at Bristol for prisoners who may be at risk from suicide or self-harm.

Healthcare at the prison consists of an Inpatient care unit with 24-hour nursing cover. There are also nurses posted to each wing during the core day to carry out treatments and triage prisoners with minor illness and injuries. There is a dedicated Integrated Drug Treatment Service (IDTS) at HMP Bristol which has achieved national recognition in the treatment, care and management of offenders with Drug and Alcohol misuse issues. This service is located on a dedicated wing with a multidisciplinary team that consists of Prison officers, Nurses and CARATs workers for drug counselling services. At all times during core day there is at least one GP on duty at the prison.

Notable former inmates[edit]


  1. ^ HighBeam
  2. ^ "UK | Remand inmates in 'shameful conditions'". BBC News. 2000-11-10. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  3. ^ "UK | England | Jail faces cash crisis over nurse fees". BBC News. 2002-06-25. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  4. ^ "UK | England | Bristol/Somerset | Bristol prison downgraded". BBC News. 2003-07-09. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  5. ^ "UK | England | Bristol/Somerset | Jail 'lost its way', says report". BBC News. 2005-06-02. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  6. ^ "UK | England | Bristol/Somerset | Rise in violence blamed on drugs". BBC News. 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "National Archives Discovery Catalogue page, Horfield Prison". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  9. ^ "HMP Bristol staff verbally abused inmates, inspectors say". BBC News. 2013-09-17.
  10. ^ HMP Bristol: Substance abuse blamed for 'protracted rage' BBC

External links[edit]