HM Prison Doncaster
|Security class||Category B|
|Capacity||1145 (February 2009)|
Doncaster Prison was built on the site of Doncaster Power Station, and opened in 1994. Management of the prison was originally contracted out by the Home Office to Premier Prison Services Ltd, a joint venture between Serco and US company Wackenhut Corrections. In 2005, Serco bought out Wackenhut and now runs the prison alone.
In 1999, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, was criticised for awarding Doncaster Prison a Charter Mark, when it emerged that Doncaster had the worst suicide record of any prison in England and Wales. Jack Straw defended his decision as an "unfortunate coincidence of timing".
In 2004, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons accused Serco of "institutional meanness" at Doncaster Prison, and described conditions there as "squalid". Four years later, an unannounced inspection of the prison found inmates sleeping in toilets because of overcrowding.
The prison today
Classified as a 'local remand' prison, Doncaster can hold 1,145 inmates as of August 2007, considerably more than its original design envisaged. Accommodation at the prison comprises three houseblocks, each houseblock has 4 wings and each wing can hold a maximum of 90 prisoners. The Health Care Centre has 29 beds for in-patients on one floor with a further 36 beds on the lower floor for enhanced workers.
Doncaster has links with the local community in order to reduce the chances of former prisoners re-offending. Schemes have been set up with local employers, landlords and other agencies to try to ensure ex-prisoners have a successful resettlement into the community. The prison also has links with a ‘halfway house’ in a nearby town where prisoners can live after release as they adjust to life beyond the prison wall.
The prison has been nicknamed "Doncatraz" by inmates and locals, in reference to the famous Alcatraz prison, in San Francisco Bay. The prison lies between branches of the River Don, River Don Navigation and River Cheswold and appears to be on an 'island'.
Notable former inmates
- Prince Naseem Hamed, former boxing world champion, jailed for driving dangerously.
- Baron Ahmed, a member of the House of Lords, jailed for driving dangerously.
- Jenny Swift (also known as Jonathan Swift), 49, was a transgender woman who had been refused a transfer to a women's prison. She was found dead in her cell.
- During one episode of the Channel 4 cookery show The F-Word in 2006, Gordon Ramsay cooked in Doncaster Prison for its inmates. He challenged prisoner Kieron Tarff to an onion-chopping race, which Ramsay lost. The chef was so impressed by Tarff that he offered him a job at his restaurant when he would be released in 2007.
- "Fury over suicide jail's Charter Mark". BBC News. 26 January 1999. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Watchdog describes prison as 'squalid' in new report". Europe Intelligence Wire. 12 April 2006.
- Gaines, Sara (22 July 2008). "Inmates sleep in toilets at overcrowded prison". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Adetunji, Jo (12 March 2009). "Labour peer freed by court of appeal in dangerous driving case". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- "Transgender woman found dead in cell at HMP Doncaster". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
- "Tasty offer from TV chef to convict". WACS2000. Retrieved 3 January 2007.
- Ministry of Justice pages on Doncaster
- Serco pages on Doncaster Prison
- HMP Doncaster - HM Inspectorate of Prisons Reports