hm prison cookham wood

HM Prison Cookham Wood

HM Prison Cookham Wood is a male juvenile facility located in Rochester, Kent. Originally built in 1978 as a young offenders institution, it has gone through many changes before its current role housing 15-18 year old males. Despite issues with overcrowding and drugs in the past, Cookham Wood aims to provide education, training and rehabilitation programs to young offenders.

History and Background

Cookham Wood opened in 1978 next to HMP Rochester as a youth detention center. In 1998, it began holding female juveniles aged 12-14 after refurbishment, becoming controversial as a child prison. After complaints of overcrowding, it reverted to holding young male offenders from 2007.

Facilities and Operations

The prison has single occupancy cells with in-cell showers. There is a daily 45 minute outdoor period. It focuses on education and work programs to prepare inmates for release. Healthcare, mental health services, and drug rehabilitation are also provided.

See also  HM Prison Standford Hill

Inmate Population

Cookham Wood houses sentenced and remanded male juveniles aged 15-18 years old. The population in 2020 was around 188. Many inmates come from difficult backgrounds with issues like drugs, mental illness, and learning disabilities.

Controversies and Issues

There has been criticism of overcrowding, drug use, bullying and lack of staff and resources. But reports in the 2000s found improving standards of care and rehabilitation programs for prisoners.

Daily Life in Cookham Wood

Young offenders at Cookham Wood follow a strict routine focused on education, skills development and rehabilitation. Facilities are basic but aim to meet prisoner needs.

Facilities and Living Conditions

Inmates are housed in single cells with a toilet, shower and desk. Cells are small but adequate. There is time outdoors and exercise facilities. Food quality is basic but nutritious. Access to telephones and TV is allowed on good behavior.

Education and Training Programs

Education is compulsory. Courses focus on math, English, IT and life skills. There are workshops to learn practical job skills like construction, automotive, etc. Libraries provide learning resources.

Work and Leisure Activities

Prisoners work full-time with duties around the prison. Evening and weekend leisure activities include sports, TV, games and classes. Religious services are offered. Visits from family are encouraged.

Healthcare and Mental Health Services

Medical facilities provide essential physical and mental healthcare. Drug rehabilitation programs are available. Counseling helps with mental illnesses, abuse trauma, etc. But staffing shortages have impacted care quality.

Rehabilitation and Release Preparation

Preparing young offenders for release and reducing reoffending is a key aim. Sentence planning, training and community links assist with resettlement.

See also  HM Prison Swansea

Sentence Planning and Risk Assessment

Sentences are structured to address offending behavior. Risk assessments shape rehabilitation plans. Inmates engage in behavioral programs like anger management.

Resettlement Programs

Practical assistance is given pre-release with housing, employment, education and finances. Community partners provide mentoring and support.

Community and Family Engagement

Links with family are encouraged with visits and phone calls. Local charities assist prisoners with counseling, housing, etc.

Education and Employment Support

Education continues pre-release along with links to colleges for further study. Help is given creating CVs and job applications.

Issues and Controversies

While strides have been made, Cookham Wood still grapples with ingrained issues affecting the youth detention system.


Accommodating growing prisoner numbers in limited space has led to crowded, multiple occupancy cells despite single cell policy.

Drug Abuse

Despite strict security, drugs still enter the prison sparking violence and health issues. More rehabilitation programs could help.

Violence and Bullying

Young, troubled inmates in confined spaces contribute to outbursts of violence and bullying. Better mental health resources could alleviate this.

Staffing and Resources

With limited staff and budgets, providing adequate supervision, security and prisoner services remains challenging.

The Future of Cookham Wood

Recent efforts show a desire to address weaknesses and expand Cookham Wood’s role in rehabilitating young offenders.

Developing Rehabilitation Services

There are plans to improve rehabilitation programs focusing on education, mental health, addiction, and skills training.

Improving Mental Healthcare

Hiring more mental health staff and expanding counseling services aims to better support inmates’ mental wellbeing.

Tackling Overcrowding and Drug Issues

Updating cell blocks, adding capacity and tightening security aims to ease crowded conditions and contraband issues.

See also  HM Prison Bristol

Preparing Young People for Release

More pre-release support for finding jobs, housing and continuing education hopes to reduce reoffending post-release.


Summary of Key Points

In summary, Cookham Wood faces challenges as a juvenile detention facility but strives to reform young lives through education, skills, and support. Daily life is regimented, aimed at self-improvement and release readiness. Ongoing issues like overcrowding, drugs and understaffing persist but plans to enhance rehabilitation services could lead to more positive outcomes.

Importance of Reforming Young Offenders

Ultimately, the goal is to put troubled youth on a better path and reduce reoffending. Cookham Wood plays an important role in this process. With the right resources and programs, many young lives can be transformed.


What types of inmates are housed at Cookham Wood?

Cookham Wood houses male juvenile offenders aged 15-18 who are sentenced or on remand. Many come from difficult backgrounds.

What rehabilitation programs are offered at the prison?

Programs focus on education, vocational skills, counseling, drug rehabilitation, mental healthcare and pre-release resettlement assistance.

How much time do prisoners spend out of their cells each day?

Inmates get 45 minutes of outdoor exercise per day. They also attend school, work programs and evening activities from their cells.

What issues has Cookham Wood faced in recent years?

Main issues have been overcrowding, presence of drugs, violence, and lack of staff and resources impacting rehabilitation services.

What plans are in place to improve conditions at Cookham Wood?

Plans aim to improve facilities, hire more staff, expand programs and mental health services, increase security and tackle overcrowding.

Similar Posts