HM Prison Cookham Wood
|Security class||Juveniles/Young offenders|
|Population||157 (as of December 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Cookham Wood at justice.gov.uk|
The prison was built in 1978, next to HMP Rochester and was named Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution. The new prison was originally for young men, but its use was changed to meet the growing need for secure female accommodation at the time.
In 1998 the prison started accepting female juvenile offenders (aged 12–14), and was refurbished for that purpose. The costs involved with the refurbishment and the new facilities provided at the prison led to the media branding Cookham Wood "Britain's most controversial jail".
In a 2003 report the Prison Reform Trust criticised Cookham Wood for being one of the most overcrowded women's prison in the UK. The report also highlighted serious drug misuse amongst inmates at the prison. However, a 2005 report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons commended the prison for improving standards.
In 2007 the Prison Service announced that Cookham Wood would be converted to accept male young offenders. This was due to increased demand for places in men's prisons in the UK. Cookham Wood formally started taking male prisoners during 2008.
The prison today
Cookham Wood is a Juvenile Prison and Young Offenders Institution, holding males aged 15 to 18. Accommodation at the prison consists mainly of single occupancy cells, with some double cells.
All inmates have access to showers, and 45 minutes outside in the open air every day. The prison operates a resettlement programme for inmates coming to the end of their sentences, and has links to community groups and employers.
Notable former inmates
- "UK | England | Crowded jail 'has drug problem'". BBC News. 2003-03-28. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "UK | England | Kent | Prison shows 'marked improvement'". BBC News. 2005-11-22. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "UK | England | Kent | Jail to become secure youth unit". BBC News. 2007-07-27. Retrieved 2013-04-12.