HM Prison Greenock
HM Prison Greenock, though officially labeled as such, is more commonly still referred to by its original name – Gateside Prison. Located in Greenock, Scotland, it serves courts in the western region of the country by holding male prisoners on remand or short-term convicted sentences. It also houses a small number of female prisoners and has a dedicated facility for long-term male prisoners as they progress towards release.
History and Background
First opened in 1910, HM Prison Greenock has a long history in Scotland’s prison system. It was originally called Gateside Prison and this name is still frequently used by locals when referring to it. Over the years, additional blocks and facilities have been added to expand capacity. Most recently in 2014, two new Community Integration Units called Arran and Bute were built to help prisoners transition back into society more smoothly.
Prison Layout and Capacity
HM Prison Greenock is divided into five distinct residential areas:
As the largest hall in the complex, Ailsa has a design capacity of 131 prisoners. However, in practice this limit is usually exceeded. Ailsa houses prisoners on remand, those serving short term sentences, and a small number of long term prisoners.
This unit accommodates the female prisoner population at HM Prison Greenock. Similar to Ailsa, it goes beyond its intended 56 prisoner capacity. Darroch contains single cells with electricity and integral sanitation.
With 64 spaces, Chrisswell House assists long term male prisoners in their progression towards release into open conditions. Cells here have electricity but share sanitation facilities between them.
A few infamous inmates have spent time at HM Prison Greenock over the years.
In 2019, Edward Cairney was convicted of murdering Margaret Fleming who disappeared in 1999. The trial and later BBC documentary brought substantial attention to HM Prison Greenock.
The Lockerbie bomber behind the 1988 terrorist attack over Scotland served time here as well. He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds and died of cancer a few years after.
Visitation Rules and Times
HM Prison Greenock allows visitors 7 days a week with allotted sessions for each housing area. Weekday and weekend times are outlined below:
Weekday Visit Times
- Session 1: 15:10 – 15:55
- Session 2: 18:45 – 19:30
- Session 3: 19:50 – 20:35
Sessions may be shortened to 30 minutes if incidents occur requiring operational changes.
Weekend Visit Times
- Saturday Session 1 (families): 13:40 – 14:50
- Saturday Session 2 (Ailsa and Chrisswell): 15:15 – 16:15
- Sunday Session 1 (Ailsa and Chrisswell): 13:40 – 14:50
- Sunday Session 2 (Darroch): 15:15 – 16:15
Weekend sessions can be 75 minutes or shortened to 30 minutes as needed.
Overseeing operations at HM Prison Greenock:
Governor and Deputy Governor
- Morag Stirling – Official Governor
- Gerry Watt – Deputy Governor
While HM Prison Greenock remains a stable fixture in Scotland’s incarceration system after over a century of use, there are plans regarding improvement and community outreach.
With prisoner levels already exceeding intended capacity in some areas, talks are underway regarding potential construction projects to support more inmates.
Prison leadership also hopes to strengthen recidivism prevention programming to ease former prisoners back into society smoothly. The newer Community Integration Units built are already demonstrating success on this front.
As one of Scotland’s longer running correctional institutions, HM Prison Greenock has seen many prisoners filter through its cells in its hundred-plus years of operation. Recent spotlights from high profile inmates and documentaries have drawn added public attention to the facility and the work underway there. With expansions and a focus on community relations planned for the future, HM Prison Greenock remains an evolving cornerstone of western Scotland’s justice system.
- How many separate housing units are in HM Prison Greenock?There are 5 distinct residential areas in the prison complex – Ailsa Hall, Darroch Hall, Chrisswell House, and the two Community Integration Units called Arran and Bute.
- What years was HM Prison Greenock opened and expanded?It first opened in 1910. The latest addition was in 2014 with the construction of the Arran and Bute Community Integration Units.
- Who are some well-known prisoners at HM Greenock?Edward Cairney, convicted in murdering Margaret Fleming, and Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, are two infamous prisoners to spend time there.
- How often can prisoners receive visitors?HM Greenock permits visits 7 days a week with allotted sessions for each housing unit at the prison.
- Who currently oversees management of the prison?The current Governor is Morag Stirling. Gerry Watt serves as her Deputy Governor.