HMP Drake Hall
This Closed prison is located near the village of Eccleshall in Staffordshire. The building alone has an interesting history…
During World War II female munitions workers used the site as accommodation, then in 1960 the building was repurposed and used as a male open prison, before becoming a female prison in 1974.
After a full renovation in the mid-1990s, and a perimeter fence being installed in 2002, the site became a semi-open prison, before being re designed as a closed prison in March 2009.
Life at HMP Drake Hall in 2020…
Drake Hall hold both adult and young offenders. Specialising in foreign national prisoners and re settlement, the prison takes pride in their regime including incentives, education, workshops, training courses, farms and gardens, a works department and a gym. There are also voluntary and paid outwork schemes and a listener scheme.
Greggs, Halpins and Timpson are companies that work with the prison closely, have a high level of social responsibility, and are willing to work with offenders and ex-offenders. There is a Timpson workshop within the prison, and women who work there make new bikes and repair old ones. They are also given a Timpson uniform, something which is so important, and really gives a sense of pride.
HMP Drake Hall consists of 15 residential units within the perimeter fence, accommodating up to 315 women.
- Bristol, Canterbury, Norwich – general non smoking units
- Durham, Exeter, Folkstone, Gloucester, Margate, Oxford – General units
- Keele – a 19 room induction unit
- Plymouth, Richmond – For women who have completed their induction
- Ipswich – mostly accommodation women working outside the prison
- Lancaster – mostly housing long term prisoners and lifers
- St David’s – 16 single rooms for women with social care or mobility needs
- The new open unit outside of the prison which can hold up to 25 women
The open unit at Drake Hall Prison
As we mentioned earlier, the resettlement regime at Drake Hall is something that the prison are proud of. The regime is slightly different to other prisons as low risk prisoners coming to the end of their sentence are able to move to a new unit outside the prison walls.
The unit was opened in February 2015 by Justice Minister Simon Hughes, who said the following in relation to the new unit and scheme:
“The new unit at Drake Hall represents a stepping stone back into the community for these women, giving them the chance to take responsibility and prepare to turn their lives around on release.”
“For mothers, the overnight facility will also offer the chance to strengthen relations with their children, which can be one of the most powerful possible motivations to turn away from crime for good.”
“This development is part of our wide-ranging reforms to drive down the number of women who reoffend by holding them closer to their families and the communities into which they will eventually be released.”
The accommodation can hold up to 25 women, and is based just outside the prison gate. The time spent here in an open environment gives prisoners the opportunity to find work, mend family ties, sort housing requirements and generally reintegrate into society.
It seems to be working, the reoffending rate is around 2% for those who have spent time in the open unit, compared to 30% in the main prison.
HMP Drake Hall A positive prison…
Looking through prison reports since 2015, there has been a positive vibe regarding Drake Hall in general. They have a real focus, and positive emphasis on resettlement, alongside a passion for providing a safe and secure environment, and treating women with decency and humanity.
her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons also visited the prison in 2016 and the report carried out concluded a positive endorsement of the work being carried out. A view which is shared by the board.