HMP Isis is located in Greenwich, London, within the walls of HMP Belmarsh. It is a category C training prison which holds sentenced young adults and young offenders under the age of 25. The name Isis, comes from the ancient name for the River Thames.
The total capacity of the prison is 622, and as of April 2020 there are 620 men in residence at the prison.
The prison is made up of 2 house blocks, Thames and Meridian, and these have a mixture of both single and double cells. Facilities include a fitness academy, a gym, an education centre, a vocational centre and a segregation unit.
The prison, unlike many others, doesn’t have a huge amount of history, due to the fact it opened its doors only 10 years ago in 2010.
However, just 2 years after opening, a report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised faulty technology being used within the prison. In the same report, there was also criticism surrounding the relations between prisoners and officers, thought to be due to the combination of new officers and those transferred from other prisons.
The same report, also praised the low levels of drug use, and self-harm within the prison, but a month after the report was published, it was leaked by an inmate that there was significant gang culture at work within the establishment. Gangs being an issue within the prison was then confirmed by the governor at the time, Grahame Hawkins.
In Spring 2009 the MOJ awarded a £110 to Interserve to create a brand new prison in the unused ground of HMP Belmarsh (soon to be HMP Isis). Construction was halted for a short while, and the site evacuated after a suspected world war II bomb was found. This was later found to be an empty shell casing and the construction on HMP Isis could continue.
Opportunities for prisoners
Accommodation is a combination of both single and double cells within the 2 house blocks which make up the prison.
A central activities centre is on offer to the prisoners, which houses a learning academy, a vocational development centre, a segregation unit and a PE academy.
Education and training are delivered at the prison alongside a partnership with Kensington and Chelsea college.
Opportunities’ within mechanics, waste management, bicycle repair, catering, barbering, reprographics, broadcasting and media are available, alongside job related studies.
The visitors centre at HMP Isis is run by Spurgeons charity. The centre at the prison consists of a main room, a children’s play area which is fully supervised, a refreshments counter and vending machines.
The Covid crisis
As I am writing this during the pandemic, I think it is important to make note of how HMP Isis are doing throughout this time.
As of 12th June, according to HMP Isis Twitter account, it has been 12 weeks since their last positive test, and there are no men, or staff, being treated or isolated due to symptoms. There are also 11 men deemed as ‘vulnerable’ within the prison, and they have confirmed that they are being shielded and protected.
The prison have also been running safe, socially distanced activities for the men, and have supplied additional phone credits and access to phone calls.