HM Prison Usk
|Security class||Adult Male/Category C|
|Population||250 (as of August 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Usk at justice.gov.uk|
HM Prison Usk is a Category C men's prison, located at 47 Maryport Street in Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service, and jointly managed with the nearby HMP Prescoed.
Usk is a Victorian prison, opened in 1844 as a House of Correction, and after the addition of other buildings in 1870 the establishment became the Monmouthshire County Gaol, superseding the Monmouth County Gaol in Monmouth. It retained that role until 1922 when it closed, reopening in 1939 as a borstal. It continued as a borstal until 1964 when it became a Detention Centre. In 1983 Usk became a Youth Custody Centre and from 1988 to 1990 a Young Offenders Institution. In May 1990, Usk became an Adult Category C prison for Vulnerable Prisoners (mainly sex offenders) and it continues in that role today.
In May 2003 a special workshop was set up in Usk Prison, in conjunction with a local charity. Prisoners in the workshop worked at removing fake logos from clothing, CDs and videos which have been seized by trading standards officers. The rebranded goods were then sold in local charity shops in the region. The project was the first of its kind to be set up in Wales. However, by March 2008 this had been closed down.
In July 2003 Usk Prison (along with its satellite prison Prescoed) was described as of the top five performing prisons in England and Wales. The statistics were published by the Prison Service as part of a league table - the first time that prisons had been ranked in this way.
In August 2008 an inspection report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that standards at both Usk and Prescoed prisons remained good, despite dips in performance. The report said that the two prisons were safe and clean, and that relationships between staff and prisoners were "relaxed". Race quality work was also found to be good, as was the education and training provision for inmates at both sites. The report found, however, that staff were not sufficiently trained, and that there was a shortage of trained psychologists.
Usk is a Category C closed prison for adult male vulnerable prisoners (mainly sex offenders, convicted police officers, ranking civil workers which are convicted to serve a term or sentence). Accommodation at the prison consists of three main wings, which radiate off a central rotunda. The majority of the cells are bunked double-occupancy, all with integral sanitation. Good quality and well-screened showers are available on all residential units. Additional accommodation is located on Comber Unit (a 20 bed ground floor wing opened in May 2003). Allocation to Comber Unit is by application after 6 months as an Enhanced Prisoner. All prisoners have access to in cell TV with 9 digital Freeview channels, and access to limited disabled facilities. There is wheelchair access to most ground floor areas such as the Refectory and Chapel.
The prison offers a range of education courses covering basic skills to higher education. A purpose-built Vocational Training Centre offers City and Guilds courses and qualifications in woodcraft, plasterwork and bricklaying.
Unlike most other UK prisons, there is no staffed Visitor's Centre or children's play area at Usk Prison. In the visits room there are vending machines providing hot & cold drinks, as well as snacks. Baby changing facilities are also available. The Visiting Room allows only ten prisoner visits per day.
- "Inmates rebrand seized goods". bbc.co.uk. 24 May 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "League table shames worst prisons". bbc.co.uk. 24 July 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "Mixed findings in jail inspection". bbc.co.uk. 21 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "Historic Usk courthouse opens doors again" by Chris Wood at southwalesargus.co.uk
- "Rat cop's cellmate is rapist aged 80", The Sun, 13 March 2010
- Ministry of Justice pages on Usk
- Searchable database with photos of prisoners, offences, sentences etc 1871-1876 (Newport Past Website)