HMP Frankland, A Maximum Security’ Monster Mansion’

HMP Frankland holds some of Britain’s most dangerous criminals, serial killers, child killers, terrorists and extremists. Over the decades it has seen the worst humanity has to offer and has been dubbed ‘Monster Mansion’ because if it. A name it seems to share with HMP Wakefield, probably because these prisoners are frequently transferred between the two prisons.

HMP Frankland is a high-security prison in County Durham. It houses 844 category A and B prisoners. Category A prisoners are the most dangerous and most difficult to manage prisoners in the system.

Frankland accepts prisoners who are serving ten years or more, lifers, IPP (imprisonment for public protection) prisoners, and high risk category A and B remands.

The Westgate Unit

Within HMP Frankland is the unique Westgate Unit. This unit will hold 65 prisoners when fully operational. It was opened in 2004 and includes a psychologically informed planned environment (PIPE) unit that has room for 21 prisoners. It also consists of a 13 place healthcare unit and 28 segregation cells. Westgate is a secure unit for the most psychologically damaged prisoners in the system, often violent and likely to re-offend. Westgate hopes to offer a better way to help these men be rehabilitated or at least live a better life inside the prison, making it safer for themselves, officers and other prisoners.

The Westgate Unit is a mental health service for Personality Disorder Treatment. When Westgate opened in 2004, it was named a Dangerous Severe Personality Disorders Unit, DSPD, but have now been renamed. These sites now provide personality disorder treatment services in the high-security prison estate as part of the new national Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) Pathway Strategy.

The offenders in the unit usually have severe psychological problems caused by childhood abuses and trauma. Strict punishment regimes do not work for these prisoners, it was found once released they would often re-offend violently. The prisoners in here are diagnosed as psychopaths, borderline personality disorders, and sociopaths, all conditions lack empathy and can cause extreme violence. All have been convicted of serious violent or sexual offences, most of them several times.

The Unit is really a prison within a prison. It has its own regime and way of working. It is a ten minute walk from the main jail. It is one of four units,

the others are at Whitemoor prison near Cambridge, and at Rampton and Broadmoor high-security mental hospitals.

Nothing like Westgate had ever been tried before, it was the first time in the world, a large-scale, sustained attempt was made to develop and evaluate treatments for men usually regarded as untreatable: recidivist, violent psychopaths. Before this there was no treatment, these prisoners would be released when their time came, often to kill again or be kept in prison indefinably.

In 2004 it was an extremely costly experiment, Westgate’s official figure is £80,000 per year per prisoner. It cost £24m to build. In addition to the pool and table-tennis tables inside each atrium, an art studio, classrooms and a library, the compound includes a football pitch, two tennis courts, gardens with floral borders, allotments where prisoners may grow their own food, and a large greenhouse.

The ‘Jihadi’ Wing

HMP Frankland has another unique feature, often dubbed, ‘the Jihadi wing’, and it is another jail within the jail. This time, for extremist prisoners. A report on the separation centre at HMP Frankland in Durham described it as a “microcosm” of a normal jail. The prison’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) praised managers and staff for the “successful delivery” of the facility, given that it was a first of its kind it has opened the way for the successful implementation of other similar units in other prisons.

Three specialist facilities to isolate the most “subversive” individuals as part of efforts to clamp down on radicalisation behind bars were revealed in 2016. A review had warned that Islamist extremism was a growing problem in British jails. The separation unit at Frankland was the first to open, receiving its “initial cohort” of prisoners in June 2017. The prisoners in the unit are treated the same as the main buildings prisoners are but are kept away from the main population, so they can not influence others. The prisoners work with psychologists, probation and religious leaders to try and understand their extremism and modify it.

Five of HMP Frankland’s Worst

Michael Adebolajo

Adebolajo is one of the brutal killers of soldier Lee Rigby. Rigby has been off duty and walking along Wellington Street in London when the pair ran him down in a car. They then got out of the vehicle and stabbed him repeatedly. They dragged his body onto the road and waited for the police to come. They told passers-by that they had killed a soldier to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British army. Both killers were wounded on the ensuing police standoff. Both Adebolajo and Adebowale are of Nigerian descent and were Christians who converted to Islam.

Adebolajo was given a whole life order.

Levi Bellfield

Levi Bellfield, 50, who interestingly is now known as Yusuf Rahim is the killer of Milly Dowler. Bellfield converted to Islam whilst in jail, sources say he converted to gain influence and protection from the biggest gang in the prison- Muslims.

Bellfield also killed Marsha McDonnell, 19, in 2003 and Amelie Delagrange, 22, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, 18, in 200 He was convicted on 25 February 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Sean Mercer

Sean Mercer was only 16 when he murdered Rhys Milford Jones by shooting him in the back. Rhys Jones was 11 at the time. Mercer was sentenced to life imprisonment, serving a minimum of 22 years.

Mercer was already a known convict and gang member at this early age. He had been stopped nearly 80 times by police and was on an Asbo on the day he shot Rhys.

Osman Hussain

Hussain was had attempted to plant a bomb in Shepherd’s Bush tube station on 21 July 2005 during the failed London bombings. Hussain is from Ethiopia but is a naturalised British Citizen. Osman Hussain was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and explosives offences

Peter Sutcliffe

To me this is the most notorious of all killers, I was at university in Leeds at the time he was on the prowl. It was always in the back of our minds-it could have been anyone.

The infamous Yorkshire Ripper viciously murdered 13 women and attempted to kill seven others. He began his reign of terror in1969 and was only caught in 1981 after a series of bungled police investigations. His method of attack was always the same, he would strike his victims, mostly prostitutes, from behind with a hammer before stabbing them repeatedly with a knife.

Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor was a leading politician turned war criminal in Liberia. He served as Liberian President from 1997-2003.

A UN-backed court convicted him of war crimes over his support for rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone. He was sentenced to 50 years in 2012. He is the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since Karl Dönitz at the Nuremberg Trials.

One of the atrocities committed was the beheading of civilians. Victims’ heads were often displayed at checkpoints. On one occasion a man was killed, publicly disembowelled and his intestines stretched across a road to form another checkpoint. “The purpose,” Judge Richard Lussick said, “was to instil terror.”

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