Nestled in between Heathrow Airport and the M3, is the only purpose built women’s’
prison in the uk.
HMP Bronzefield was opened in 2004 by Sodexo Justice Services, and was opened with the aim of becoming a forward thinking, modern woman’s prison and young offenders institute, who could take a large, diverse population of women.
HMP Bronzefield consists of 4 houseblocks, which can each house approximately 130 woman each. Each wing has a serving unit, where woman can collect their food and choose to eat either with others in the wing or take it back to the privacy of their own room. Each room has it’s own telephone, which the prison sees as essential for women in order to maintain their family ties.
A 17 bed healthcare unit, a care and separation unit , and a Mother and Baby unit for babies up to 18 months, is also all on site.
5 Things you need to know about HMP Bronzefield
- On arrival at the prison, each woman is given the opportunity to speak with a peer worker, someone who is part of Listeners, which is a branch of the Samaritans. They also be assessed for their educational needs, and complete a ‘well-being week’ where they will meet with various agencies to assess relevant needs as a part of the general induction process.
- The ‘regime’. All women in residence at Bronzefeild follow a set regime in order to keep the environment stable and safe and to allow the women to focus on their rehabilitation. Breakfast is at 8am, followed by work or education. Lunch is then at midday, before work or education takes up the afternoon before social time and dinner.
- There is a huge variety of employment opportunities within the prison, including, but not limited to; catering and barista work, hair and beauty salon, gym, peer workers, chaplaincy orderlies, cleaning, and arts
- All foreign national women are placed on courses to learn English as their second language, this is to help them integrate into society after release, and reduce the reoffending rates.
- HMP Bronzefield works with external employers, as well as the wider Sodexo group to provide opportunities for women on Release on Temporary License. A lot of the opportunities offered then result in permanent employment for women on release from prison.
In a nutshell…
HMP Bronzefield has some of the most notorious criminals on their inmate list. The huge range of women housed there, coupled with the fact that it is the largest womens prison in the uk, can make for quite a challenging environment. However, the prison and staff are focussed on pushing Bronzefield forward within its growing status as a progressive prison.
The prison puts rehabilitation at the forefront, and on a recent visit the Secretary of State for Justice remarked “HMP Bronzefield is leading the way in responding to local market needs by putting an end to the now defunct textile workshop, and instead giving prisoners barista work, training, and qualifications. We want all of our prisons to follow suit”