Wandsworth (HM Prison)

Wandsworth (HM Prison)

Infobox HM Prison
name = HMP Wandsworth

size =
caption =
opened = 1851
type = Adult Male/Local
figures = 1456 (November 2007)
location = Wandsworth, London
governor = Ian Mulholland
prisonid = 474

HM Prison Wandsworth Gaol is a prison in the Wandsworth area of London, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. As of November 2007, the operational capacity of Wandsworth Prison was 1456, making it the largest prison in London, and Britain, and one of the largest in western Europe, with similar capacity to Liverpool prison.


The gaol was built in 1851 when it was known as "Surrey House of Correction". It was designed according to the humane Panopticon principle with a number of corridors radiating from a central control point with each prisoner having toilet facilities. The toilets were subsequently removed to increase prison capacity and the prisoners had to engage in the purposefully humiliating process of 'slopping-out' until 1996.

In 1930, inmate James Edward Spiers, serving a 10 year sentence for armed robbery committed suicide in front of a group of Justices of the Peace who were there to witness him receive 15 lashes, then a form of corporal punishment. cite news |title=Wandsworth Walloper |publisher=Time magazine online |date=1930-02-17|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,738671,00.html |accessdate=2007-06-23]

In 1951, the gaol was chosen as the site for a national stock of two types of implement for serious corporal punishment inflicted in prison under Magistrate's orders, either as part of the original sentence or as a disciplinary punishment under the prison rules - birch and cat o' nine tails.Fact|date=June 2007

Execution site

Wandsworth was the site of 135 executions, from 1878 to 1961. Among those executed were Duncan Scott-Ford, William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and John Amery who were hanged for treachery, as well as George Chapman, John George Haigh, Guenther Podola and August Sangret hanged for murder. One of the last prisoners to be executed, 19-year-old Derek Bentley, was controversially hanged in 1953 for murder.

The gallows were dismantled in 1993 and the condemned suite is now used as a tea room for the prison officers.Fact|date=June 2007

The prison today

Wandsworth Prison contains eight wings on two units. The smallest unit, containing three wings, was originally designed for women but now houses the Vulnerable Prisoners Unit - primarily those convicted of sex offences.

Education and training courses are offered at Wandsworth, and are contracted from Amersham and Wycombe College. Facilities at the prison include two gyms and a sports hall. The large prison chaplaincy offers chaplains from the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Buddist, Mormon and Jehovah's Witness faiths.

The PACT Centre is a visitors' centre at Wandsworth Prison. Facilities include a rest area, refreshments and a children's play area. The centre also provides information on a selection of support agencies, such as the Prisoners' Families & Friends Service.

Notable inmates

* Oscar Wilde, writer
* Ronnie Kray, organised crime leader [ [http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/mob_bosses/kray/brother_6.html Crime Library - He's My Brother] ]
* Ronnie Biggs, participant in the Great Train Robbery, who successfully escaped from the prison in 1965 before fleeing the country

In Popular culture

*Wandsworth is mentioned in:
**The Squeeze song Cool for Cats.
**Spike (Elvis Costello album) song Let Him Dangle.
**Gene (band) song Truth rest your head.
**Wandsworth prison is mentioned in James Lloyd's infamous diary detailing the exploits of bent screws (prison officers) and the high availibility of controlled substances, a direct consequence of the corrupted system that is currently in place to manage people that have been convicted of a crime or are simply awaiting trial...


External links

* [http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/prisoninformation/locateaprison/prison.asp?id=474,15,2,15,474,0 Wandsworth Prison]

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