hm prison cardiff

HM Prison Cardiff

HM Prison Cardiff is a Category B men’s prison located in the Adamsdown area of Cardiff, Wales. The prison first opened in 1832 and is currently operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service, holding around 800 inmates. Cardiff Prison has a long and complex history, at times being an execution site and the center of controversy over conditions and treatment of prisoners. However, the prison aims to provide education, employment training, and rehabilitation programs to its inmates today.


Early Jails in Cardiff

By 1814, the existing Cardiff Gaol was insufficient for the quickly growing industrial town. Construction began on a new county jail in 1827. The new Cardiff Prison opened in late 1832, capable of housing 80 prisoners including 20 debtors.

Construction of New Prison

The original Victorian wings underwent major renovations in 1996. With the addition of new cell blocks C, D, and E, the prison’s capacity expanded. Space was also increased for housing life-sentenced prisoners.

Expansions and Renovations

Further criticisms regarding inmate treatment, drugs, and recreation facilities prompted more changes to the aging prison. While the core Victorian buildings remain, the prison continues to be updated and expanded to serve the needs of a modern correctional facility.

Notable Events

Executions at the Prison

A total of 20 judicial executions were carried out at Cardiff Prison between 1900 and 1952 for the crime of murder. Executed prisoners were buried in unmarked graves within the prison walls, as was customary.

See also  Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre

In 2003, after the abolishment of capital punishment, the remains of several executed prisoners were exhumed and reburied elsewhere to make space for new construction.

Controversies and Criticisms

There has been recurring criticism of inmate treatment and prison conditions at Cardiff. Controversies include chaining sick inmates to beds, cell-share policies connected to inmate deaths, and improper handling of drug abuse and recreation.

Prison Conditions and Operations

Security Category and Population

Cardiff Prison accepts adult male inmates on remand from South Wales courts. It houses Category B and C sentenced prisoners. The prison has an operational capacity of around 800.

Regime and Facilities

The prison regime aims to provide education, employment workshops, and training courses. There are also resettlement units with offending behavior programs and work-based courses. A 50-bed detoxification unit operates at the prison.

Units and Programs

Rehabilitative services at Cardiff include full-time education, employment workshops, training courses, a resettlement unit, and a detoxification unit. The prison aims to provide meaningful activities and treatment services to inmates.

Popular Culture

Use as a Filming Location

In 1999, scenes set in Cardiff Prison were featured in the BBC drama Jack of Hearts, starring actor Keith Allen as a probation officer in the fictional series. The real-life prison was used as a shooting location.


While HM Prison Cardiff has faced many challenges and criticisms since its 19th century beginnings, the prison continues adapting to modern standards of operation and prisoner rehabilitation. As one of the largest facilities in Wales, Cardiff plays an important role in handling remand and sentenced inmates in the region. The prison staff strives to provide educational, vocational, and treatment programs despite aging infrastructure. With further investment and improvement, Cardiff Prison can become a leader in humane and progressive correctional services.

See also  Millbank Prison


What type of inmates are housed at Cardiff Prison?

Cardiff houses adult male inmates who are remand prisoners awaiting trial as well as sentenced Category B and C prisoners.

How many executions took place at Cardiff Prison?

20 executions were carried out between 1900 and 1952. The remains of some executed prisoners were later exhumed.

What facilities and programs does the prison offer?

Cardiff Prison offers facilities for education, employment, training courses, drug detoxification, and resettlement units. The emphasis is on rehabilitation.

What TV show featured Cardiff Prison?

Scenes set in Cardiff Prison were filmed for the 1999 BBC drama series Jack of Hearts starring Keith Allen.

How has Cardiff Prison changed over time?

The original Victorian era wings have been expanded and renovated. Prison capacity and services continue to be updated to meet modern standards.

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