HM Prison Long Lartin
Perched on the outskirts of the picturesque village of South Littleton in rural Worcestershire lies one of Britain’s most well-known high security prisons – HMP Long Lartin. Its nondescript brick walls and fences conceal a grouping of infamous and dangerous offenders rarely seen beyond the tight security of its boundaries. Long Lartin has a long and volatile history of housing some of the country’s most violent murderers, organized criminals, terrorists and sex offenders. Life inside revolves around stringent security and control procedures to keep troublesome inmates under tight supervision. Yet Long Lartin has also pioneered innovative rehabilitation schemes to steer prisoners away from reoffending upon release. This article provides an in-depth look inside HMP Long Lartin, its population, daily routines, challenges, and recent efforts to balance security with decency.
Background and History
Origins and Opening
Constructed in the late 1960s, Long Lartin opened its heavy gates for the first time in 1971. It originally operated as a Category C male training prison holding lower risk prisoners nearing the end of their sentence. The focus was on education, vocational skills and preparing inmates for resettlement back into society.
Early Role as Category C Prison
For its first two decades, Long Lartin functioned mainly as an open Category C prison. While security features like high perimeter walls were in place, the atmosphere was oriented towards reintegration rather than punishment. Prisoners could move relatively freely to work and education areas to gain skills for employment after release.
Upgrades to High Security in 1990s
After a turbulent period in the late 1980s and early 1990s involving escape attempts, roof-top protests, and an inmate constructing a firearm, Long Lartin underwent dramatic upgrades to its security. By the mid 1990s it re-opened as a Category A high security dispersal prison for dangerous and erratic offenders requiring intensive supervision. This marked a seismic shift in Long Lartin’s role and population.
Prison Population and Units
Category A Prisoners
As a Category A facility, all of Long Lartin’s inhabitants are classified as posing an exceptionally high security risk. They include inmates with histories of organized crime, escapes or violence against staff and other prisoners.
Different Wings and Residential Units
The bulk of the prison consists of eight main residential wings holding the general sentenced population. A purpose-built 180 capacity unit with more modern in-cell amenities was recently constructed. Different prisoner categories are kept separate.
Segregation Unit Holding High Risk Inmates
The ‘Supermax’ segregation unit houses Long Lartin’s most unmanageable and violent inhabitants. These high control prisoners undergo solitary confinement in austere, sparse cells due to the threat they pose to other inmates and staff.
Daily Life and Regime
Beyond its perimeter fences, the daily existence inside Long Lartin displays some similarities with other closed prisons, but with added security steps reflecting its high risk population.
Typical Prison Routine
The regimented prison routine revolves around set times for wing lock up, roll calls, meals, exercise, work duties, education sessions and association periods. Strict adherence to timetables enables close monitoring of prisoners.
Work and Education Opportunities
Inmates can apply for vocational jobs in areas like welding, industrial cleaning, waste management and laundry. Education classes provide basic skills training and attempt to boost offenders’ employability.
Exercise, Visits and Healthcare
All prisoners get at least 30 minutes outdoor exercise per day. Visits from family and friends take place in a dedicated facility. In-house doctors and nurses provide basic healthcare, with external hospital visits for serious conditions.
Security and Control
Maintaining iron-like supervision and control of unpredictable Category A prisoners is Long Lartin’s top priority. This demands extensive security procedures and vigilance.
High Walls, Fences and Locks
Formidable high walls, razor wire-topped fences and solid steel doors keep prisoners firmly within the prison’s boundaries. Security gates divide zones, while inmates are locked in cells overnight.
Searches and Surveillance
Random personal and cell searches aim to seize drugs, weapons and other contraband. A network of cameras monitors inmate movements and activities. All interactions are observed by officers.
Managing Gangs and Violence
Gang members are dispersed across different wings to break up groups. Specialist anti-violence strategies identify conflict triggers to maintain stability and order.
Notable Inmates Over the Years
Long Lartin has become a notorious holding pen for some of Britain’s most infamous and dangerous offenders:
- Notorious serial killer Dennis Nilsen spent time at Long Lartin.
- Ian Huntley, who murdered two 10 year old girls in 2002, was held there before his conviction.
- Mark Bridger was jailed at Long Lartin for the 2012 abduction and murder of April Jones.
High Profile Sex Offenders
- Former rock star Ian Watkins, convicted of child sex crimes, was an inmate before being moved to another prison.
- Richard Huckle, one of Britain’s worst pedophiles, was found stabbed to death in his Long Lartin cell in 2019.
Terrorists and Extremists
- Abu Hamza, jailed for inciting terrorism, was detained at Long Lartin prior to extradition to the US.
- Michael Adebolajo, one of Lee Rigby’s killers, still resides within the prison’s high security confines.
Challenging and Volatile Environment
Behind its perilous population, Long Lartin contends with immense difficulties preserving order and stability:
With staffing cuts of around 20% in recent years, thin officer numbers struggle to exert full control over volatile prisoners. Assaults have risen.
Drugs, Weapons and Contraband Issues
Keeping drugs and homemade weaponry out of inmate hands is an uphill battle requiring extensive searches. Contraband still circulates through varied trafficking means.
Riots and Control Difficulties
Long Lartin has suffered major riots requiring specialist riot teams to quell disorder. Gang violence and non-compliance with rules creates instability risks.
Progress and Rehabilitation
Yet Long Lartin has also made substantial reforms to enhance security, safety and opportunities for offenders to turn their lives around:
New Facilities and Investment
Replacing outdated wings with modern units has increased prisoner capacity. Further capital has upgraded security apparatus and control room technology.
Offending Behaviour Programmes
Cognitive skills courses tackle anti-social attitudes, while vocational training aims to improve inmates’ work ethic and employability.
Resettlement and Release Planning
Pre-release courses ready prisoners for life after their sentence. Through-the-gate support provides continuity of rehabilitation in the community.
Overall, HMP Long Lartin epitomizes the immense challenges of managing high-risk, volatile prisoners in a secure, orderly environment. Its inhabitants require maximum supervision, constant vigilance and tight control procedures. Yet Long Lartin also aspires to provide purpose and progression opportunities that may spark genuine rehabilitation among some individuals. With ample staff, resources and access to advanced security technology, the prison hopes to strike an effective balance between necessary restrictions and positive reforms.
Where is HMP Long Lartin located?
Long Lartin is located on the outskirts of South Littleton village in Worcestershire, England. It is roughly 15 miles south of Worcester city.
What category of prisoners are held there?
As a Category A prison, it houses high risk prisoners classified as extremely dangerous, volatile or an exceptional escape risk.
What is daily life like for inmates?
Daily routines involve lock up, roll calls, meals, work, exercise, education and association time. Prisoners face restrictions on movements and activity.
Has Long Lartin experienced major security breaches?
There have been some riots, disorder and escapes or attempts historically. But perimeter security is very tight for a Category A jail.
What rehabilitation opportunities exist at Long Lartin?
Prisoners can learn vocational skills in workshops, take educational classes, and complete offending behaviour programmes. Release planning is also available.