hm prison featherstone

HM Prison Featherstone

HM Prison Featherstone is a controversial Category C men’s prison located in Featherstone, Staffordshire in England. As one of Her Majesty’s prisons, Featherstone has faced many challenges but also implemented rehabilitation programs over its history. Read on to learn about the origins of the prison, its issues with drugs and overcrowding, the lives of inmates today, and some of its most notorious prisoners.

History and Location of Featherstone Prison

Featherstone Prison was constructed in the late 20th century on land that was previously owned by the Ministry of Defence. The small village of Featherstone in Staffordshire became home to this new Category C men’s facility operated by the HM Prison Service.

From its early days, Featherstone was at the center of controversies and scandals within the UK prison system. But along with the bad came efforts at reform and rehabilitation.

Construction and Early Years

When Featherstone Prison was first built, it caused controversy in the local community. Residents worried about having a prison located so close to their small village. However, the economic benefits of constructing the prison on formerly unused land won out.

In the early years of operation, Featherstone became known for some scandalous incidents. In the 1980s, inmates were found producing forgeries of ceramic artist Bernard Leach’s work. This demonstrated the prisoners’ creativity, if not exactly legal business savvy.

See also  HM Prison Wealstun

Drug Problems and Controversies in the 1990s-2000s

In later decades, issues with drugs plagued Featherstone and gave it a notorious reputation. A 2001 study found that Featherstone had the highest percentage of drug-using inmates in the UK at a staggering 34% testing positive.

Contraband was rampant. In 2002, it was revealed that prisoners were making alcoholic drinks out of fruit, vegetables, and even Marmite yeast spread. The prison governor at the time condoned this behavior as preferable to hard drug use.

But Featherstone continued to have problems with heroin and other hard drugs being smuggled in. A 2007 government study showed Featherstone still had the highest rates of opiate use among UK prisons.

Attempts at Rehabilitation and Reform

Despite these ongoing controversies, efforts were made to reform Featherstone. In the early 2000s, reports indicated that the prison had made good progress reducing drug use and creating a calmer environment.

However, there were critics of the harsh security measures used to achieve this. Featherstone was described as “over-controlled,” with strip searches and inmates locked in cells for much of the day.

The prison tried balancing tight security with educational and vocational opportunities for prisoners to reduce recidivism rates. But finding this equilibrium proved difficult.

Life at Featherstone Prison Today

Today, Featherstone operates as an adult closed training prison with a mix of single and double cells. Life for prisoners aims to have a balance between security, routine, and opportunities for self-improvement.

Facilities and Programs

Featherstone offers various workshops, physical education, enhanced thinking skills classes, welfare-to-work schemes, and other vocational training. There is also a Listeners Scheme where inmates provide peer support to fellow prisoners.

See also  The Clink

Outside the walls, there is a Visitors Centre for families to wait before seeing inmates. This includes refreshments and a play area for children.

Issues with Overcrowding and Security

Like many UK prisons, overcrowding remains an issue at Featherstone. This can contribute to tensions between inmates. Cells designed for one prisoner may house two or more.

Maintaining security also continues to be a challenge. Strict routines, searches and confinement to cells can feel oppressive to inmates. However, the prison views these as necessary to prevent violence and the flow of contraband.

Work and Education Opportunities

On a more positive note, Featherstone offers inmates opportunities for productive work and self-improvement. There are jobs related to running the prison facilities like food service, laundering, and maintenance.

Vocational programs allow prisoners to learn trades like construction and manufacturing. Academic classes provide basic education and advanced courses for inmates to pursue qualifications.

For prisoners nearing the end of their sentences, Featherstone has classes to prepare them for returning to life outside of prison.

Notorious Inmates

Featherstone has housed its fair share of infamous lawbreakers over the years. Here are two of the most notorious former prisoners.

Lee Hughes

One famous face who served time at Featherstone is former footballer Lee Hughes. Hughes played for West Bromwich Albion and had a productive goal-scoring career. However, his time on the pitch ended when he was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in 2003 and spent six years at Featherstone.

Other Well-Known Prisoners

In addition to Lee Hughes, Featherstone has imprisoned many convicts who were household names in the UK for their high-profile crimes. They include notorious gangsters, bank robbers, and drug kingpins.

See also  HM Prison Rochester

The combination of harsh conditions, risky inmates, and attempts at rehabilitation programs has cemented Featherstone’s reputation as one of the toughest prisons in the UK.


HM Prison Featherstone has an infamous yet important place in the history of UK prisons. From its beginnings mired in controversy to current struggles balancing security with rehabilitation, Featherstone has been home to many of Britain’s most hardened criminals. However, its education and vocational programs also provide hope that even in darkness, light can shine. Perhaps Featherstone can continue moving forward into a new era of positive reforms.


When was Featherstone Prison built?

Featherstone Prison was constructed in the late 20th century on land previously owned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Its exact open date is unclear but operations began sometime in the 1980s or 90s.

What security category is Featherstone Prison?

Featherstone is categorized as a Category C prison in the UK system. This means it houses prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but are unlikely to try to escape.

What kinds of facilities and programs does Featherstone offer?

Featherstone has workshops, physical education, enhanced thinking skills classes, welfare-to-work programs and vocational training. There are also opportunities for prisoners to work jobs within the prison facilities. Academic classes provide education.

What drug issues has Featherstone Prison faced?

Featherstone has had major contraband issues with inmates abusing drugs and alcohol. Studies in the 1990s and 2000s repeatedly showed Featherstone having the highest rates of drug use among UK prisons. Programs have aimed to curb drug trafficking in recent years.

Who are some famous former inmates of Featherstone?

One of the most famous prisoners held at Featherstone was footballer Lee Hughes, convicted of dangerous driving. Other well-known inmates have included violent gangsters and infamous bank robbers over the years.

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