HM Prison Belmarsh
London, SE28 0EB
|Security class||Adult Male/Category A|
|Population||910 (as of July 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Governor||Rob Davis OBE|
|Website||Belmarsh at justice.gov.uk|
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". 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.
It is often used for the detention of prisoners for terrorist related offences. In September 2006 the number of such prisoners was 51.
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.
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. The report also stated that an unusually high number of prisoners had reported being intimidated or victimised by staff at Belmarsh.
The prison todayEdit
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 and Magistrates' Courts in South East London. In addition the establishment 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 4 residential units.
Inmates at Belmarsh are offered access to education, workshops, 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.
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.
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