Everything you need to know about HMP Wandsworth


HMP Wandsworth is a Category B prison in the borough of Wandsworth, Southwest London. Run by Her Majesty’s Prison Service, it is the largest prison in the UK and one of the biggest in Western Europe, with an operational capacity of roughly 1,600. In 2017, it became one of the worst-rated prisons in England and Wales – and a recent BBC investigation revealed widespread drug use.

History of Wandsworth Prison

When Wandsworth Prison was built in 1851, it was known as Surrey House of Correction. It was built to be more humane than earlier jails, with toilet facilities for every inmate. But the toilets were removed to increase capacity and inmates had to complete the humiliating process of ‘slopping out’ until 1996. Between 1878 and 1961, 135 executions were carried out at the prison, which held the national stock of corporal punishment implements such as the birch and the cat o’ nine tails. The gallows were kept in full working order and were checked every six months until 1994, when they were turned into a break room for staff.

Accommodation at Wandsworth Prison

The main prison, which is known as Heathfield Centre, has five wings, each of which has four landings. Its A and B Wings hold the general population of remand and convicted inmates. Vulnerable Prisoner Units (VPUs) are on C Wing. The Integrated Drug Treatment System is on D Wing. First Night Centre and Separation Unit are on E Wing. And Trinity Unit is a Category C residential unit.

Distressed Teenager Died at Wandsworth Prison

A Lithuanian teenager who had been arrested for stealing sweets was found hanging in his cell. An investigation found that 18-year-old Osvaldas Pagirys had rung an alarm bell in his segregation cell, but by the time staff responded, he was unconscious. He was being held at Wandsworth pending his extradition to Lithuania on a European arrest warrant. Elizabeth Moody, the acting prisons and probation ombudsman, who carried out an inquiry into the death, said the circumstances of Mr Pagirys’ death were “appalling and tragic”.

Inmates at Wandsworth Prison Endured Sub-Zero Temperatures

Deteriorating conditions at Wandsworth Prison were highlighted when it was reported in March 2018 that inmates were enduring sub-zero temperatures after the heating broke. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said inmates were “immediately provided with additional resources for comfort purposes”, and a generator was used for power while the heating was fixed.

Staff Disciplined at Wandsworth Prison

In October 2017, it was reported that Wandsworth Prison had the second highest rate of staff dismissals and suspensions in England and Wales. Between January 2013 and March 2016, 32 employees faced action – more than any other jail in London.

Wandsworth Lost ‘Reform’ Status

Wandsworth was the flagship for the government’s Reform prisons scheme until its Reform status was revoked in June 2017. The scheme saw prison governors given more power to run the prison in the way they considered most effective. The news that Wandsworth had lost its Reform status created doubt over the future of the scheme.

Contact Details for HMP Wandsworth

The prison’s address is PO Box 757, Heathfield Road, Wandsworth, London, SW18 3HU. The governor is Jeanne Bryant. The phone number is 0208 588 4000.

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