HM Prison Bronzefield

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HMP Bronzefield
HM Prison Bronzefield aerial 2011.jpg
LocationAshford, Middlesex
Security classAdult Female/Juvenile
Capacity527 (December 2009)
Managed bySodexo Justice Services
DirectorIan Whiteside

HMP Bronzefield is an adult and young offender female prison located on the outskirts of Ashford in Middlesex, 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.[1]

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.[2]

The prison today[edit]

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.

Bronzefield offers full-time education courses including Art, ESOL and Information Technology. There are also workshops in Cleaning Science and Arts and Crafts.

At least four times in the two years to 2019 women gave birth in upsetting and potentially dangerous conditions, one woman gave birth in her cell and another was left in labour during the night only with support from another pregnant prisoner.[3]

The prison is run by Sodexo; its 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.[4]

Deaths in custody[edit]

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.[4][5]

Deborah Coles, of INQUEST mintained 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.“[4][5]

In October 2019 a new born baby died after the mother gave birth alone. "The case raises serious questions about how the woman came to be unsupervised and without medical support during her labour and birth, and about the conditions at the privately run prison." The Guardian.[6] Ten or eleven different enquiries have been launched into the baby's death. There are questions over how the woman had no medical help during birth, and the case drew attention to what is done generally for pregnant women in prison. There has been previous unease over care of pregnant prisoners at Bronzefield and the prison faced criticism for transferring prisoners to hospital only when advanced in labour. Deborah Coles of INQUEST said, “There must be the most robust scrutiny of how this tragic death was able to happen and involve the relevant independent expertise on maternity care. It is vital that the family are able to fully participate and that the findings are made public.”[7][8]


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".[9]

Notable inmates[edit]




  1. ^ Erwin James (2007-09-28). "The truth about 'Butlins behind bars' | Comment is free |". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  2. ^ "Women's Institute sets up branch in women's prison - Odd News". Digital Spy. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  3. ^ Revealed: concerns over string of incidents at UK prison where baby died The Guardian
  4. ^ a b c Woman's death in Surrey prison due to neglect, inquest rules The Guardian
  5. ^ a b Death of woman in private UK prison caused by neglect and systemic failures, inquest rules The Independent
  6. ^ Baby dies in UK prison after inmate 'gives birth alone in cell' The Guardian
  7. ^ Multiple inquiries ordered into death of baby in UK prison The Guardian
  8. ^ HMP Bronzefield baby death 'subject of 10 investigations' BBC
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Muslim student gets 15 years in jail for trying to murder MP Stephen". Evening Standard. 3 November 2010.
  11. ^ Harley, Nicola (26 May 2016). "Serial killer Joanna Dennehy's escape plot to murder guard revealed as she loses high court compensation bid". The Telegraph – via
  12. ^ "Sentencing-remarks-r-v-edgington".
  13. ^ Lion, Patrick; Wood, Alex (13 November 2017). "Becky Watts' killer Shauna Hoare wants to marry girlfriend in prison". bristolpost.
  14. ^ Parfitt, Tom (9 July 2017). "Evil child killer Mairead Philpott 'becomes a WITCH and leads pagan dance in prison'".
  15. ^ "Killer Fergie aide may get two years for escaping". 2009-11-29.
  16. ^ Tweedie, Neil (16 March 2005). "'Baby killings' mother to be freed from jail" – via
  17. ^ "Child murderer Rose West viciously beaten at Durham maximum security prison". International Business Times UK. 16 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Child abuse mum hurt after attack in prison".
  19. ^ Cann, David (12 December 2012). A Madness Shared by Two: True Story of the M6 Eriksson Twins & the Murder of Glenn Hollinshead. BookBaby. ISBN 9780956848925 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ "Child abuse mum hurt after attack in prison".
  21. ^ Tominey, James Murray and Camilla (29 November 2009). "Killer Fergie aide may get two years for escaping".
  22. ^ "MP Fiona Onasanya's jail term 'not lenient'". The Times. 26 February 2019.
  23. ^ Brooks, Katie; Grimshaw, Emma (30 December 2018). "Serial killer Rose West plans to 'appeal sentence so she doesn't die in prison'". bristolpost.
  24. ^ Evans, Martin (18 September 2019). "Paedophile nursery worker Vanessa George released from prison". The Telegraph.

20.^ Evans, Martin(18 September 2019)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°25′58″N 0°29′03″W / 51.432889°N 0.484096°W / 51.432889; -0.484096