HM Prison Liverpool
HM Prison Liverpool, formerly known as Walton Gaol, is a category B men’s prison located in Walton, Liverpool, England. With a history dating back over 150 years, HMP Liverpool has faced issues with overcrowding, poor conditions, and violence, but has also undergone some recent improvements.
Location and Classification
HMP Liverpool is situated in the Walton area of Liverpool, England. It is classified as a category B local prison holding adult males from the Merseyside region.
Capacity and Population
The prison has an operational capacity of 1370 prisoners. As of August 2021, the population stood at 810 inmates.
History and Background
HMP Liverpool was originally constructed between 1848-1855, replacing an older 18th century prison in central Liverpool. The prison carried out judicial executions up until 1964, when capital punishment was abolished.
In September 1940, 22 prisoners were killed during a German bombing raid that partially demolished a wing. The body of one victim was found 11 years later during rubble clearance.
Conditions and Controversies
Over the years, Liverpool Prison developed a reputation for overcrowding, poor conditions, and issues with drugs, bullying, and violence.
- A 2003 inspection exposed unclean and vermin-infested cell blocks along with limited access to showers.
- Further issues were highlighted in 2010, including prevalent drugs and bullying.
- In January 2015, three officers were hospitalized following a prisoner attack.
- Particularly strong condemnations came in 2017-2018, with reports of broken fixtures, insect infestations, and mentally ill inmates held in poor environments. This triggered the dismissal of the prison governor in late 2017.
The Prison Today
Today, HMP Liverpool has eight wings, all with refurbished integral sanitation. The current population hovers around 1,200 prisoners.
Educational and training courses are offered along with workshops and rehabilitation programs. A healthcare facility opened in 2007, though provider changes have disrupted services.
Well-known former prisoners include Irish republican Brendan Behan, violent offender Charles Bronson, reformer Fenner Brockway, and writer Robert Tressell.
Recent Issues and Improvements
While significant problems persisted through the 2010s, inspections in 2020 found conditions have “improved dramatically” since 2017. Concerns remain, however, around psychiatric care and staff safety.
HMP Liverpool has a long and often troubled history as large local prison for the Merseyside region. After facing intense condemnation for poor conditions in recent years, some progress has been made to improve the aging facility. Challenges around mental healthcare, staff safety, overcrowding and rehabilitation remain works in progress.
When was HMP Liverpool built?
HMP Liverpool was constructed between 1848-1855.
What is the prison capacity?
It has an operational capacity of 1,370 prisoners.
What are some well-known former inmates?
Notable prisoners include Brendan Behan, Charles Bronson, Fenner Brockway, and Robert Tressell.
What triggered criticism in 2017-2018?
Reports exposed broken amenities, vermin infestations, and inadequate care for mentally ill inmates.
What improvements were cited in 2020?
Inspections found dramatically better overall conditions compared to 2017.