hmp five wells

HMP Five Wells

HMP Five Wells is a new maximum security prison located just outside of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, England. As the largest prison in the East Midlands region, Five Wells has faced its fair share of controversy and criticism since construction began in 2018. However, the prison also provides economic opportunities and employs many local residents. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history, facilities, controversies, and community impact of HMP Five Wells.

History and Background

Announcement and Planning

Plans for a new prison in Wellingborough were first announced by the UK Ministry of Justice in June 2018. The prison would be built on the site of the former HM Prison Wellingborough, which had closed in 2012. After conducting feasibility studies, the location in Wellingborough was selected and approved to proceed to the construction phase.

In 2020, it was decided through a vote by Wellingborough residents that the new prison would be named HMP Five Wells, referring to five historical wells located near the prison site.


Construction of the prison began soon after the planning phase was completed in 2018. The facility was built rapidly, with 9 main buildings completed in just 45 weeks by late 2020. The total construction cost came to approximately £253 million.

See also  HM Prison Forest Bank

Opening and Operation

The first inmates began arriving at Five Wells in early 2022. Today, the prison is fully operational and run by private security company G4S. The prison holds Category C adult male inmates.

Facilities and Capacity

Inmate Capacity

With a maximum capacity of 1,680, HMP Five Wells is one of the largest prisons in the UK. The large capacity helps alleviate overcrowding at other facilities.

Buildings and Layout

The prison has 9 main residential and administrative buildings surrounded by exterior fencing and walls. Facilities include inmate housing, kitchens, workshops, classrooms, recreation areas, healthcare, and more.

Security Level and Classification

Five Wells is a Category C prison, meaning it houses prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but are considered unlikely to make a determined escape attempt. Security features include exterior walls, fences, cameras, and regular patrols.


Local Protests

The announcement of the new prison was met with some protests from local residents and activists. Small protests persisted throughout the construction phase, with some activists attempting to block access to the work site. Many were concerned about the prison’s environmental and social impact.

Drug and Alcohol Use

In 2023, videos emerged allegedly showing Five Wells inmates abusing drugs and alcohol within the prison. This sparked criticism of operator G4S and claims that contraband substance abuse was occurring frequently in the prison.

Criticism of G4S

Operator G4S has faced ongoing criticism about its management of HMP Five Wells. Besides the substance abuse claims, advocacy groups have accused G4S of neglecting rehabilitation efforts in favor of profitability. The UK Ministry of Justice has stood by G4S despite these criticisms.

See also  HM Prison High Down

Impact on the Community

Economic Impact

While controversial, Five Wells does provide some economic benefits locally. The prison employs over 300 staff, many hired from the nearby town. The facility also utilized local construction crews during building.

Social Impact

Some local groups have raised concerns about the social impact of having a large prison nearby. However, many inmates’ families now have improved access thanks to the new location. G4S and the prison have invested in community outreach efforts.


HMP Five Wells is now fully operational, bringing both opportunities and controversies to the town of Wellingborough. While critics remain vocal, the prison appears to be here to stay as the largest facility in the region. Time will tell whether the operator G4S can manage Five Wells effectively and mitigate community concerns. Despite a somewhat rocky start, the prison now provides jobs as well as closer access for many inmate families.


What is the capacity of HMP Five Wells?

The prison has a maximum capacity of 1,680 inmates, making it one of the largest prisons in the UK.

How was the construction timeline for Five Wells?

The 9 main buildings of the prison were built rapidly in just 45 weeks, finishing construction in late 2020.

What kind of inmates are housed at Five Wells?

As a Category C prison, Five Wells houses adult male inmates who are considered unlikely to make escape attempts.

Who operates and manages HMP Five Wells?

The private security company G4S is contracted by the Ministry of Justice to operate and manage HMP Five Wells.

See also  HM Prison The Verne

What concerns have local residents raised about the prison?

Some local groups protested over environmental, social, and rehabilitation concerns. But others see economic benefits in jobs.

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