Dartmoor Prison is a Category C men’s jail surrounded by moorland in Devon. Operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the majority of its inmates are non-violent and white-collar offenders. It also holds sex offenders, who are provided with programmes to address their behaviour. Dartmoor has a capacity of 640 with cells on six wings. It offers full and part-time education including vocational course on electronics, brickwork, carpentry and painting and decorating.

Dartmoor Prison History

Dartmoor Prison was built in 1807 to hold French and American prisoners of war.  In 1850, it became a criminal prison and most of the buildings date from the late 19th century. A museum opened in 1996, exploring the history of the prison from its opening to the present day.

In 2001, a report condemned sanitation at Dartmoor Prison and outlined a list of urgent repairs. A year later, the Prison Reform Trust warned that the jail may be breaching the Human Rights Act due to serious overcrowding. Shortly after, the Chief Inspector of Prisons announced that significant improvements to the jail’s management and regime had been made.

Dartmoor Inmate’s Sentence Doubled

It was reported in June 2018 that an inmate at Dartmoor Prison had his sentence doubled after he refused to say where his hidden millions were. Joseph Birch swindled wealthy Americans in an elaborate scam during which he claimed to be a knight, a peer, a special service operative and a Royal Marine. Birch was jailed for seven and a half years in 2016 and is believed to have hidden assets worth more than £5 million. Birch was ordered to repay more than £5 million and was given an extra seven years in prison when he failed to do so.

High Risk Offenders ‘Released from Dartmoor Without Proper Preparation’

In December 2017, it was reported that hundreds of high-risk inmates including sex offenders were being released from Dartmoor Prison without proper preparation. Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said more than 200 men had been released in 12 months in a significant public protection failing. He said the prison lacked the resources to effectively prepare offenders for their release and minimise risk to the public. Clarke said: “This was a shocking and totally unacceptable situation given the generally high-risk population being released from Dartmoor.”

Inmates Climbed onto Roof at Dartmoor Prison

It was reported on June 1, 2018 that emergency services had been called to Dartmoor Prison after two inmates had climbed onto the roof. The local newspaper was alerted to the incident by an anonymous call from an inmate at the jail who said a riot was about to break out. A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Staff at HMP Dartmoor successfully resolved an incident involving two prisoners on Friday, 1 June. There were no injuries to staff or prisoners.”

Dartmoor Prison Contact Details

The address is Princetown, Yelverton, Devon PL20 6RR. The phone number is 01822 322 000. The governor is Mrs Bridie Oakes-Richards.

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