HM Prison Hindley
Tucked away in the village of Bickershaw near Wigan in Greater Manchester lies HM Prison Hindley, a complex with a long and tumultuous history. As one of the larger prisons in England, Hindley has undergone many changes over the decades – from a borstal institution focused on youth offenders to a dedicated adult facility housing over 700 inmates today.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Hindley’s origins and trajectory from its opening in 1961 up to its operations and facilities in the present day. We’ll also highlight some of the most notable events and inmates in Hindley’s history. While rehabilitation and education are now the focus, Hindley has certainly seen its share of unrest and damage over the years.
Background and History
Opening and Early Years as a Borstal and Youth Facility
HM Prison Hindley first opened its doors in 1961 as a borstal institution aimed at housing and rehabilitating young offenders. For over 20 years, it operated solely as a center for youth detention and correction.
In 1983, Hindley transitioned to a Youth Custody Centre before being reclassified as an adult prison facility in 1997. During its early decades focused on young inmates, Hindley emphasized physical education, practical skills training, and strict discipline and routine.
Transition to Adult Prison
The decision was made in 1997 to convert Hindley into a joint prison and Young Offenders Institution (YOI). It then began taking in adult prisoners over the age of 21, while still functioning as a youth offender facility.
With this new dual role, Hindley needed to expand its staffing, programs and security to account for increased inmates and more mature criminal profiles. Educational schooling was still emphasized for the youth detainees.
Inspections and Conditions in the 2000s
In the early 2000s, routine inspections uncovered both promising initiatives and areas for improvement at Hindley. Suicide prevention programs, drug rehab, and monitoring of racial incidents were praised. However, insufficient work opportunities and rehabilitation support for adult prisoners were criticized.
Riots and Unrest in 2004-2005
The transition to an adult prison brought growing pains and unrest to Hindley in the mid-2000s. In late 2004, two inmates staged a disruptive rooftop protest of their confinement.
More seriously in October 2005, a full-scale riot broke out and took control of a cell block. Over 100 additional prison staff were required to contain the riot, which resulted in over £145,000 in damages to the wing. This highlighted issues with control and safety at Hindley during this period.
Facilities and Operations Today
Prison Population and Layout
Today, after the youth population was phased out in 2014-15, Hindley operates solely as Category C adult male facility. With around 700 prisoners, it has an operational capacity of about 400.
The prison is laid out across seven secure units of both single and double occupancy cells. Accommodation ranges from high-security solitary cells to more open, dormitory-style housing.
Opportunities for Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation through education and skills development is a priority at Hindley. Inmates can take classes and vocational courses leading to qualifications. The prison also provides workshops in construction trades and other industries to impart practical abilities.
Addressing underlying behavioral issues through counseling, addiction treatment, and other interventions is also an important focus. Hindley aims to prepare prisoners for successful community reintegration.
Education and Skills Training
In terms of education, Hindley offers adult classes in math, English, information technology, and other academic subjects. Inmates can pursue distance learning courses as well for more advanced qualifications.
Vocational opportunities teach useful job skills like food preparation, cleaning services, automobile mechanics, woodworking, and more. Inmates can also opt to gain work experience through prison custodial and groundskeeping jobs.
Mental Health and Self-Harm Prevention
With vulnerable prisoners coping with confinement, Hindley provides counseling and mental health services. This includes suicide/self-harm prevention initiatives and specialized housing for at-risk inmates.
Listening schemes are in place where prisoners provide peer support and look out for warning signs. Hindley aims to foster an environment focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
One of Hindley’s most infamous prisoners was Will Cornick, who was sentenced to a minimum 20 years in 2014 for the murder of his Spanish teacher Ann Maguire. This high-profile case for such a young offender highlighted ongoing issues with youth rehabilitation.
Cornick was held at Hindley as a high-risk inmate both for his own safety and the safety of others. This case shed light on debates around criminal justice and treatment of youth convicted of serious crimes.
HM Prison Hindley has undergone many shifts in purpose and population over its 60+ year history. From its start as borstal institution through periods of notable unrest, it now aims to provide education and rehabilitation focused on adult prisoners.
However, echoes of its past remain in ongoing challenges with safety, vulnerable inmates, and fulfilling its mission of reducing recidivism through productive custody. As a large facility housing diverse inmates, Hindley continues to adapt to serve its role in the English prison system.
What type of facility is Hindley today?
Hindley is currently a Category C prison for adult males only, primarily ages 21 and older.
What is the operational capacity?
Its operational capacity is around 400 prisoners, though it may house over 700 inmates at times.
What rehabilitation programs are offered?
Hindley offers adult education classes, vocational skills training, counseling, addiction treatment, listening schemes, and other programs focused on rehabilitation.
Has Hindley fully transitioned from a youth facility?
As of 2014-15, Hindley no longer houses youth offenders and is dedicated only to adult prisoners.
What was Hindley originally when it opened?
Hindley opened in 1961 as a borstal institution for youth incarceration and correction. It transitioned to an adult prison beginning in 1997.