HM Prison Belmarsh

Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh is a Category-A men's prison in Thamesmead, south-east London, England. It is run by Her Majesty's Prison Service.

HMP Belmarsh
2017 Thamesmead aerial view 02b.jpg
Aerial view of HM Prison Belmarsh (centre).
To the left is HMP Isis, to the right is HMP Thameside
London, SE28 0EB
Security classAdult Male/Category A
Population910 (as of July 2008)
Opened1991; 30 years ago (1991)
Managed byHM Prison Services
GovernorRob Davis OBE
WebsiteBelmarsh at


Belmarsh Prison was built on part of the East site of the former Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, and became operational on 2 April 1991. Belmarsh is adjacent to and adjoins Woolwich Crown Court: it is used in high-profile cases, particularly those concerning national security.

Between 2001 and 2002, Belmarsh Prison was used to detain a number of people indefinitely without charge or trial under the provisions of the Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, leading it to be called the "British version of Guantanamo Bay".[1] The law lords later ruled in A v Secretary of State for the Home Dept that such imprisonment was discriminatory and against the Human Rights Act.[2]

It is often used for the detention of prisoners for terrorist related offences. In September 2006 the number of such prisoners was 51.[3]

In May 2007, there was a violent disturbance in the prison, Sky News reported. At least four prison officers were injured.[4]

In 2009, an archaeological dig on site led to the discovery of a 6,000-year-old trackway in the prison, the second oldest known wooden trackway in Northern Europe after the Sweet Track near Glastonbury.[5]

In November 2009, an inspection report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised the "extremely high" amount of force used to control inmates at the prison.[6] The report also stated that an unusually high number of prisoners had reported being intimidated or victimised by staff at Belmarsh.

In 2010, HMP Isis Young Offenders Institution was opened within the perimeter wall of Belmarsh Prison.[7]

The prison todayEdit

Car park and main entrance

Belmarsh is a Category A Prison holding prisoners from all over the United Kingdom. In addition, Belmarsh is a local prison accepting different categories of prisoners from primarily the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) and Magistrates' Courts in South East London. It also serves Crown and Magistrates' Courts in South West Essex. Accommodation at the prison is a mixture of approximately 60% multi-occupancy cells and 40% single cells, distributed mainly across four residential units.[8]

Inmates at Belmarsh are offered access to education, workshops,[9] two gyms, one focusing on Physical Education courses and one recreational, with use of a sports hall and a fitness room. The gym staff also have a partnership with Charlton Athletic F.C. to deliver FA accredited coaching courses for prisoners.[10]

A listener scheme for prisoners at risk from suicide or self-harm is in operation at Belmarsh. There is also a support group for foreign national prisoners, providing advice on immigration law.[11]

Notable inmatesEdit


  1. ^ "Belmarsh – Britain's Guantanamo Bay?". BBC. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Data". The Times Online. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ Tony McNulty Written Answers, 8 September 2006 col. 1701W Home Department – Terrorism
  4. ^ Staff hurt in jail disturbance | Metro News
  5. ^ Anon (12 August 2009). "London's earliest timber structure found during Belmarsh prison dig". News. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  6. ^ "'High levels' of force at prison". BBC News. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "CACT Over 25 Years". Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Michael Adebolajo 'attacked in jail'". BBC News. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale plead not guilty to Woolwich". London Evening Standard. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  14. ^ Scheerhout, John (23 March 2020). "Fights, revenge and jihadi neighbours - what life is like for Arena killer Hashem Abedi in Britain's toughest prison". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Abu Hamza: from Soho bouncer to hook-handed cleric of hate." The Daily Telegraph. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  16. ^ De Simone, Daniel (3 February 2020). "Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Rajani, Deepika (10 July 2020). "HMP Belmarsh inmates: from Tommy Robinson to Ian Huntley, the high-profile convicts detained at the London prison". inews. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  18. ^ Rebaza, Claudia; Arnaud Siad; Bianca Britton (13 April 2019). "British MPs urge government to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden". CNN. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  19. ^ Kirk, Tristan (14 July 2021). "Motorist admits killing two people in Romford pile-up". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  20. ^ Tate Modern attacker loses appeal against sentence
  21. ^ "Radical preacher Anjem Choudary to stand trial on terror charges". BBC News. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  22. ^ Dominic Casciani, 'Soho nail bomber David Copeland sentenced for prison attack', BBC News, 28 October 2015 [1]
  23. ^ Dodd, Vikram (16 March 2021). "Wayne Couzens to go on trial in autumn accused of murdering Sarah Everard". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Richard Huckle filmed himself abusing children and shared videos and pictures with fellow paedophiles on the dark web". Sky News. 1 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Prolific Paedophile Gets 22 Life Sentences". Sky News.
  27. ^ Who was Usman Khan? The attacker who hoodwinked authorities to fulfil his terrorism dream of targeting London
  28. ^ "Ex-inmate MP condemns UK prisons". 12 August 2014 – via
  29. ^ Cobain, Ian; Taylor, Matthew (23 November 2016). "Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair jailed for life for Jo Cox murder". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  30. ^ Ross, Alice (27 June 2017). "Finsbury Park accused Darren Osborne appears at Old Bailey". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  31. ^ Hill, Patrick (26 November 2016). "Serial killer Stephen Port's jail letters include boasts of bedding TV star". Daily Mirror.
  32. ^ Busby, Mattha (13 December 2019). "Essex lorry deaths: driver denies human trafficking charges". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  33. ^ "Reading stabbings: Terror suspect Khairi Saadallah appears at Old Bailey". BBC News. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  34. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (15 March 2007). "Renegade ex-MI6 officer will not be prosecuted". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2021.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°29′47″N 0°05′34″E / 51.4964°N 0.0929°E / 51.4964; 0.0929