HMP Low Newton
HMP Low Newton is a closed prison, located in Brasside, near Durham, for female prisoners and young offenders.. It is located next to HMP Frankland, a category A male prison.
Constructed in 1965, the prison was initially a mixed remand centre, for 65 males and 11 females. The facility was then expanded in 1975 increasing the capacity to 215. Until September 1998 the prison still had both male and female inmates, but since then, it has been an all female prison and young offenders institution. HMP Low Newton often suffers with overcrowding, taking a number of prisoners from a large catchment area including the Scottish borders, to North Yorkshire, across to North Cumbria
The prison in the press
In 1998, after the refurbishment program began, HMP Low Newton was in the press for more negative reasons… Whilst being treated for wounds on her thigh and groin at the University Hospital of North Durham, a prisoner grabbed the officer to whom she was cuffed, before holding a pair of scissors to the throat of the officer and began demanding drugs, before being stunned by police.
Described as ‘the most secure prison for women in the uk’, HMP Low Newton has been in the press many times over the past 10 years, purely for the well known criminals who are, or have been, in residence there.
Probably the most well known would be serial child- killer Rose West, who has spent over 10 years in the prison after moving from HMP Bronzefield, and according to sources had created quite a nice life spending her time knitting and baking cakes, is reported to have been devastated to leave, but has now been moved on to New Hall prison in Yorkshire.
The reason behind the transfer of West is another well knownserial killer Joanna Dennehy, as she threatened to kill West.
Dennehy, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, had to be moved to HMP Low Newton as it is the most secure prison, and she is classed as one of the uk’s most dangerous inmates after going on a killing spree in March 2013 killing several men and leaving 2 men fighting for their lives.
HPM Low Newton – “an excellent woman’s prison”…
Inspectors visiting the prison reported that they found an ‘immensely complex’ female population, spanning a wide geographical area.
The prison houses a small number of young adults under 21, and some foreign nationals, as well as a large amount of women who have severe and significant histories of substance misuse, mental illness and the complexities that can come alongside them.
The prison is one of just two prisons in the UK who hold prisoners of restricted status, those whose escape would pose a serious threat to the public.
An inspection in February 2018 found a prison run by “skilled and motivated staff” who dealt with situations in “decent, caring, and when necessary, firm way to keep women safe, and the prison purposeful.”
Although, like most prisons, violence, overcrowding, and substance misuse, are still a major problem, the prison is working hard to address these issues, and body scanning technology is being installed to help keep contraband away from the prison therefore reducing drug use.
Overall, the prison seems like a safe place, especially for those women who do suffer with mental illness, and who do need more careful handling within a prison environment. The staff seem passionate about doing their job well, and the resettlement and rehabilitation programmes have good results. Even with the overcrowding and the odds stacked against them, HMP Low Newton are creating a productive, proactive,and safe environment.