HM Prison Garth
Nestled in the village of Ulnes Walton near Leyland in Lancashire, England, lies one of the UK’s most notorious prisons: HM Prison Garth. As a Category B men’s prison, HMP Garth houses over 800 adult male inmates convicted of serious violent and sexual crimes. Despite aiming to provide vocational training and rehabilitation programs, this prison has developed a reputation for violence, gang activity, and unsafe conditions. However, with new management there are hopes that HMP Garth can improve its environment and better achieve its rehabilitative goals.
History of the Prison
HMP Garth first opened its doors in October 1988. In its early years, it encountered some scandals involving affairs between staff and prisoners. But prison officials were mostly pleased with the operations in these first few decades.
Opening in 1988
When Garth first opened, it was seen as a modern facility that could house over 500 inmates. The layout and design were intended to help prison administrators maintain control of the population.
Expansions in 1990s and 2000s
To increase capacity, Garth underwent various expansions:
- A new unit added 120 beds in 1997.
- Further accommodations in the late 2000s brought the prison up to its current 800 inmate population.
Current State of the Prison
Today, Garth continues to evolve and address ongoing challenges. Most prisoners are serving lengthy sentences for their crimes.
Prisoner Population and Security Category
As a Category B prison, Garth houses inmates who do not require maximum security but are considered escape risks. The typical prisoner has committed serious crimes like:
- Violent assaults
- Drug trafficking
They tend to have over 4 years left on their sentences.
Issues with Violence and Drugs
In recent years, inspectors have raised alarms about conditions at Garth:
- High levels of violence between inmates as well as against staff
- Prevalence of drugs like spice and illicit alcohol
- Around 2/3 of prisoners reporting feeling unsafe
Gangs and debt disputes over drugs exacerbate the violence. Prisoners refusing to leave their cells has become commonplace.
Rehabilitation and Training Programs
Despite these challenges, Garth does provide programs aimed at rehabilitation:
- Vocational Training Opportunities: Classes include woodworking, mechanics, textiles, cleaning, and more. Inmates can obtain qualifications to gain employment after release.
- Education Courses: Garth offers literacy, maths, ESOL, and other classes to improve inmates’ skills. Gym facilities promote physical education and health.
Some of Garth’s most famous prisoners include:
- Gordon Park – robber who spent over 50 years in prison, 40 of which were in Garth
- David Norris – convicted in the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence
- Joshua Stimpson – jailed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Molly McLaren
Looking to the Future
The future of HMP Garth remains uncertain. With rising violence and the prevalence of drugs, significant changes are needed to improve safety and conditions.
Addressing Safety Concerns
Reducing violence and gang activity is critical for creating an environment where rehabilitation can occur. Ensuring prisoners can serve their sentences safely must be a top priority.
Beyond safety, inspectors have called for reforms to the prison’s facilities and procedures to bring them back up to standard. Increased oversight and accountability for staff can help achieve this goal.
HMP Garth has a complex history, with both rehabilitative successes and major safety failures on its record. An influx of new inmates has strained the prison’s resources in recent years. Time will tell whether new leadership and initiatives can get Garth back on track to providing a secure, educational environment where inmates can serve their sentences and prepare for release.
What type of criminals are housed in HMP Garth?
HMP Garth houses adult male inmates, typically convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes like rape, manslaughter, assault, and murder. They are considered Category B prisoners.
What issues has the prison faced recently?
There have been high levels of violence and drug use at HMP Garth. Prisoners report feeling unsafe, and many refuse to leave their cells. Gangs and debt disputes contribute to the violence.
What vocational programs are offered at Garth?
Garth provides training in woodworking, mechanics, textiles, cleaning, and other hands-on trades. Inmates can earn qualifications to help them find jobs after release.
When did HMP Garth open?
HMP Garth first opened in October 1988 in the village of Ulnes Walton in Lancashire, England. It has undergone expansions in 1997 and the late 2000s.
Who are some notable inmates at Garth?
Some well-known prisoners include Gordon Park who spent over 50 years there, David Norris convicted in a racist murder, and Joshua Stimpson jailed for murdering his ex-girlfriend.