HM Prison Doncaster
Nestled between branches of the River Don in South Yorkshire lies HM Prison Doncaster, one of England’s most notorious jails. With a reputation rivaling the infamous Alcatraz prison, Doncaster has earned the nickname “Doncatraz” thanks to its isolated location and harsh conditions inside. This high-security facility has been both criticized and praised over its 25+ year history – gaining notoriety for incidents like controversial deaths while also attempting progressive rehabilitation programs.
History: Opening, Outsourcing, and Early Controversies
HM Prison Doncaster first opened its doors in 1994, built on the site of the former Doncaster Power Station. The Home Office originally hired private company Premier Prison Services Ltd to operate the jail – a joint venture between Serco and Wackenhut Corrections. In 1999, Doncaster gained infamy for having the highest suicide rate of any English prison despite being awarded a Charter Mark that same year.
The Home Office continued to face criticism over the jail’s conditions and overcrowding issues in the early 2000s. By 2004, Doncaster was described as having “squalid” conditions and “institutional meanness” in a report from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. Despite these ongoing problems, the prison population continued to swell beyond capacity as it took on more inmates than its original design allowed.
The Prison Today: Population, Facilities and Rehabilitation
Today, Doncaster serves as a local remand prison primarily for category B adult males. As of August 2007, its capacity was 1,145 prisoners – though limited space means two inmates often share single cells designed for one. Doncaster has three houseblocks dividing the population across wings and landings.
For prisoner rehabilitation, the jail offers education programs focused on literacy, IT skills, and vocational training. Healthcare, drug/alcohol counseling, and offending behavior courses aim to reduce reoffending rates. The prison works closely with community groups and local agencies to help ex-inmates transition back into society smoothly after release.
The Controversial Death of Jordan Hullock
In 2015, the death of a 19-year old prisoner spotlighted Doncaster’s ongoing healthcare issues. Jordan Hullock entered the prison with several physical conditions, including a heart defect. As his health deteriorated over several days, Hullock complained of feeling unwell and asked for medical intervention. However, his complaints were dismissed as psychiatric despite obvious symptoms like high temperature and low blood pressure.
After days of worsening illness, Hullock finally saw a doctor and was transferred to a hospital – where he soon passed away from bacterial meningitis and pneumonia. An inquest found “serious failures” in Doncaster’s medical response, determining that officials should have secured treatment sooner. Hullock’s mother accused the prison of “inhuman and degrading treatment” leading to her son’s preventable death.
Notable Former Inmates
Some big names have done time inside Doncaster’s notorious walls, including:
- Prince Naseem Hamed – The champion boxer was jailed for dangerous driving.
- Lord Ahmed – The member of the House of Lords served time for dangerous driving.
TV and Entertainment Links
Doncaster has made scattered appearances on British television over the years. In 2006, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay visited the prison to film an episode of The F-Word. He competed in an onion chopping contest against an inmate and was so impressed that he offered the prisoner a job upon release.
With its isolated location and harsh conditions, HM Prison Doncaster has earned its “Doncatraz” nickname over the past decades. While the facility has faced no shortage of controversies and criticism, it has also pioneered rehabilitative programs to reduce reoffending rates. However, tragic deaths like Jordan Hullock’s show the prison still grapples with providing adequate care for its high inmate population. As Doncaster moves into the future, it will continue working to improve its reputation and safety.
Where is HM Prison Doncaster located?
HM Prison Doncaster is located in Marshgate, Doncaster, South Yorkshire in England.
What type of facility is Doncaster?
Doncaster is a Category B men’s private prison, primarily used as a local remand prison.
Who operates HM Prison Doncaster?
Doncaster is privately operated by Serco after the company acquired previous operator Premier Prison Services Ltd.
How many inmates does Doncaster currently hold?
As of 2009, Doncaster’s capacity was 1,145 inmates. Due to overcrowding, that capacity is often exceeded.
What rehabilitation programs does the prison offer?
Doncaster offers education programs, healthcare, drug/alcohol counseling, and behavior courses aimed at reducing reoffending after release.