HM Prison Rochester

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HMP Rochester
HM Prison Rochester, former Borstal Prison
LocationRochester, Kent
Security classC Cat Adult
Population620 (as of May 2009)
Managed byHM Prison Services
GovernorDean Gardiner
WebsiteRochester at

HM Prison Rochester (formerly known as Borstal Prison) is a male Young Offenders Institution, founded in 1870, and located in the Borstal area of Rochester in Kent, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service, and is located next to HMP Cookham Wood.


Rochester schoolroom and pupils, c. 1906

19th Century[edit]

HMP Rochester was founded in 1870 as Borstal Prison, which was a large convict prison. Borstal Prison was then an experimental juvenile prison of the reformatory type set up in 1902. Because it was the first detention centre of its kind in the UK, the word "Borstal" became synonymous with other detention centres for youths across the country, and elsewhere.[citation needed]

20th Century[edit]

The institution remained as a Borstal school until 1983, when it was converted into a Youth Custody Centre and renamed 'Rochester'.[citation needed]

In 1988, the prison changed its role to operate as a remand centre for the Kent courts and sentenced category C and D adult males. Rochester then became a mixed site prison for immigration detainees and a resettlement unit for adult male prisoners. The prison also operated as a remand and allocation centre for males under the age of 21.[citation needed]

21st Century[edit]

In January 2002, Rochester re-rolled to a prison solely for sentenced young men up to the age of 21.

In March 2003, Rochester Prison was criticised by its own Board of Visitors. The Board stated that there were few useful employment or educational opportunities for inmates, and so therefore they had few chances to gain qualifications or work experience.[1]

In August 2006, an inspection report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons declared that Rochester Prison was improving, but still had a number of unresolved issues. Inspectors found that HMP Rochester was generally safe, and had good staff-prisoner relations. However the prison was called on to do more to provide work for inmates, and to do more to combat bullying.[2]

In March 2007, it was announced that the capacity of Rochester Prison was to be doubled to 700. This drew severe opposition from local residents.[3] Construction had briefly begun in March 2007, but was on hold pending permission from Medway council, the local planning authority.[4] This was granted, and in September 2008 a further four accommodation units were constructed at the site.

The prison today[edit]

Rochester holds convicted, sentenced adults serving less than four years. Accommodation at the prison comprises a mixture of single- and double-accommodation cells.

The prison offers offending behaviour courses, education, drug rehabilitation, NVQ-based work placements, weekend and evening association with access to gym- and sports-related activities. Various chapel-based courses are also available to inmates.


  1. ^ "Young offenders' institute 'fails' inmates". 13 March 2003. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  2. ^ "Riot-hit prison 'reasonably safe'". 14 August 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  3. ^ "Prison expansion angers residents". 19 March 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Residents' fury over jail lights". 21 July 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°22′12″N 0°29′19″E / 51.37000°N 0.48861°E / 51.37000; 0.48861