HM Prison Wetherby
HM Prison Wetherby is a unique juvenile detention facility with a long and storied history. Read on to learn all about this institution in West Yorkshire. From its origins as a borstal to its innovative programs, Wetherby has undergone many changes over the decades.
History and Origins
HM Prison Wetherby first opened in 1958 as a borstal, a type of youth detention center focused on vocational training. The facility was originally a Royal Naval base called HMS Ceres that was converted into a prison complex.
Over the years, Wetherby served different functions including an open youth custody center, closed youth custody center, and eventually its current status as a dedicated juvenile prison for young men ages 15 to 17. It now houses offenders from across several Yorkshire counties as well as parts of Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
Prison Capacity and Units
With a functional capacity of 276 detainees, Wetherby provides accommodation in single occupancy cells organized into separate units:
Two of the housing blocks date from the 1970s while four other “quick-build” units were added in 1997 to expand capacity. The prison also offers specialized enhanced supervision and vulnerable persons units for inmates who need additional care and separation from the general population.
Education and Self-Improvement
Encouraging reform and rehabilitation is a priority at Wetherby. Prisoners can participate in educational courses across a variety of subjects, tailored to individual needs and goals. These programs are facilitated by the private education provider Novus.
The chaplaincy team at Wetherby also provides opportunities for spiritual growth. Services are held for multiple denominations and faiths. The chaplains offer counseling and support for all prisoners and staff members.
Healthcare and Services
Round-the-clock healthcare is supplied on site by nursing staff with a visiting general practitioner. Prisoners can access medical attention as needed.
Meals and limited canteen services are available to detainees. The visitation facility includes vending machines and refreshments for inmates and their visitors. Prison life at Wetherby aims to provide essential care along with opportunities for self-improvement.
A Unique Army Cadet Unit
One distinctive feature of HM Prison Wetherby is the presence of the only army cadet unit operating inside a UK prison. This innovative program allows young offenders to learn basic military skills while separating from negative influences. The unit promotes teamwork, discipline, and personal development.
A History of Inmate Unrest
Despite its rehabilitative programs, Wetherby has suffered periods of serious unrest and violence within its inmate population. Back in 2016, the entire prison was placed on lockdown for two months in response to escalating tension. A prison officer was even stabbed during this period of prolonged rioting. Improving safety and security for guards and prisoners remains an ongoing challenge.
Notable Former Inmates
- Will Cornick: Originally sentenced to HM Prison Wetherby for teacher murder, but moved to another facility
For over 60 years, HM Prison Wetherby has incarcerated juvenile offenders from northern England. Its unique history and programming make it an important case study in youth rehabilitation and institutional security. Wetherby continues to evolve in its mission to prepare young inmates for their return to society. With effort and innovation, the prison strives to give them a second chance at a productive, crime-free life.
What is the capacity of HM Prison Wetherby?
The functional capacity is 276 prisoners, though it has housed over 300 inmates at times.
What age are the inmates at Wetherby?
The prison houses young males from ages 15 to 17.
What faith services are offered at the prison?
Chaplaincy services include Church of England, Roman Catholic, Muslim prayers, and non-denominational sessions.
How can inmates develop vocational skills?
Novus educational courses focus on skills training in various subjects based on each prisoner’s needs and interests.
Has Wetherby faced security issues?
Yes, there was a major period of unrest in 2016 involving inmate violence and attacks on guards. Improving safety remains an ongoing concern.