HM Prison Leyhill
|Security class||Adult Male/Category D|
|Population||532 (as of June 2009)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Leyhill at justice.gov.uk|
Leyhill Prison was originally a United States military hospital built for the Second World War. The site was converted into a prison in 1946, with inmates originally being housed in hutted accommodation. The prison was rebuilt in the late 1970s to early 1980s, and in 1986 prisoners were re-housed in new living accommodation. In 2002 new accommodation units were added to increase the prison's capacity.
In a March 2002 report, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised Leyhill for failing to prepare inmates for release, stating that too little was being done to help inmates get ready for the pressures of life outside. The report also claimed that staff had no clear idea of their role at the prison.
In May 2006, it was revealed that more than one inmate a week was escaping from Leyhill Prison, although technically inmates cannot escape, only abscond from an open prison. Statistics showed that 66 prisoners had walked out of Leyhill in the 2005/06 financial year. The Prison Service claimed the number of escapes was down to population pressures in the UK prison estate, with less trustworthy prisoners being transferred to open prisons like Leyhill.
The prison today
Leyhill is a prison for adult male prisoners from the South West area who are deemed "low risk", which usually includes non-violent offenders as well as violent offenders who have made good progress during their time at more secure prisons. Prisoners have the keys to their own cell.
Leyhill runs a variety of courses designed to help prisoners prepare for release. These include a general joinery woodwork shop (offering City & Guilds qualifications in Woodwork); a printing shop; a commercial laundry; Industrial Cleaning and Car-Valeting training; Waste Management and Recycling training; and Forklift truck and Tractor Training.
The prison's farms and gardens also provide work and training for prisoners on a 55-hectare estate, including extensive ornamental grounds. There is a nationally important arboretum run in conjunction with the Forestry Commission; it is often open to the public.
As an open prison a number of prisoners at Leyhill are placed in the community to complete work and training placements. These placements are designed with the focus of improving a prisoner's chance of successful resettlement in the community on release.
As of mid November 2016 three potentially violent prisoners have absconded.
- Fred West, high profile serial killer
- Leslie Grantham, served the final part of a sentence for murder at Leyhill before being released in 1977 and going on to land himself numerous roles as a TV actor, most notably as Den Watts in EastEnders
- T. Dan Smith, the Newcastle politician disgraced by the Poulson affair (it was Smith who encouraged Grantham to go into acting on his release)
- Luke McCormick, Plymouth Argyle captain and former England youth goalkeeper. Served for death by dangerous driving while two times over the legal limit that killed two young children.
- Chris Huhne, Former Cabinet Minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh
- Greenfingers, a 2000 film is loosely based on the story about prisoners from Leyhill and their award-winning entries into the Chelsea Flower Show.
- "Open prison 'fails to help inmates'". BBC News. 2002-03-19. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Inmates walk out weekly from jail". BBC News. 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Steven Swinford (31 March 2013). "Pilates, tennis and organic food in Chris Huhne jail". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Two convicted rapists and GBH man abscond from HMP Leyhill BBC
- David Barrett (23 March 2013). "Chris Huhne: Disgraced ex-minister moved to open jail". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Ramsey, Nancy (July 22, 2001). "FILM; Never Too Tough to Be Softened Up by a Flower". The New York Times. p. 22. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- Dietz, Paula (1998-07-16). "Free to Grow Bluebells in England". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-03.