HMP Liverpool, known locally as Walton, is located in the heart of the city, surrounded by houses, and within walking distance from many good transport links.
The prison is a category B/C men’s local prison, this means that it houses men on remand, or sentenced within the courts of Blackburn, Merseyside, or Wigan. With a total population of 1,370, it is one of the larger prisons in the UK.
The prison consists of a total of 8 wings, all which now include integral sanitation after a huge refurbishment of the prison.
Originally known as Walton Gaol, HMP Liverpool was constructed between 1848 and 1855. It was built in order to replace an 18th century building, which was too small for the needs of the time. Like most prisons of that period, there were male and female inmates housed there.
In total, 62 executions were held at the prison between 1887 and 1964. The last execution was the hanging of Peter Anthony Allen in August 1964, who was convicted of the murder of John Alan West in April of that year. His accomplice Gwen Evans was hung at the same time at Strangeways in Manchester. These were the last death sentences ever carried out in the UK.
During WW2, in the Liverpool Blitz of September 1940, a wing of the prison was completely destroyed, and 22 inmates lost their lives. One of the inmates’ bodies wasn’t found until over 10 years later, while rubble was being cleared.
An inspection in May 2003 saw HMP Liverpool severely criticised for overcrowding, cleanliness, and the hygiene of inmates. A further inspection in 2010 found that levels of drugs, and violence were still high, despite the improvement of other areas. Shortly after the 2010 inspection, it emerged that nearly £10,000 had been refunded to inmates due to the prison overcharging for prisoners watching TV in their cells.
In October 2017 the governor Peter Francis was dismissed. He had previously been labelled as a ‘questionable leader. The role was taken over by Pia Sinha in November, and she has made dealing with the conditions a key priority.
The latest inspection in January 2020 concluded that the prison had ‘improved dramatically’.
HMP Liverpool has had quite a list of notable inmates through its doors, a few are mentioned below.
Martin Murray – The professional boxer spent some time in HMP Liverpool for drugs offences in his early career, before turning pro.
Mark Ward – After his retirement from football, Mark Ward spent some of his 4-year prison sentence, for his part in the supply of cocaine, in HMP Liverpool.
Henry Tibbs – The Nazi supporter spent time in Liverpool prison in 1940. He caught Pneumonia in prison and died in 1943.
Opportunities for prisoners…
Walton Radio is a successful ‘in cell’ radio station, which offers prisoners radio production, and music technology qualifications.
Education and training courses are offered and provided by Novus, and the prisons Psychology department offers workshops and programmes too.
The prison also runs a Listener Scheme, supported by the Samaritans, which helps those prisoners who are at risk, and suffering with their mental health.