His Majesty's Prison Belmarsh is a Category A men's prison in Thamesmead, southeast London, England. The prison is used for high-profile cases, particularly those concerning national security. Within the grounds is the High Security Unit (HSU), which consists of 48 single cells. It is run by His Majesty's Prison Service. The prison has been called "Britain's Guantanamo Bay" due to the long-term detention of terrorism suspects without charge.[1] Belmarsh is also notoriously known as "Hellmarsh" due to the fact that Belmarsh is considered the toughest prison in the UK and due to the high number of physical and authority abuses reported by both the prison's inmates (including former politician and convicted criminal Jeffrey Archer, who coined the name "Hellmarsh" and who was imprisoned for four years at Belmarsh for the crime of perjury) and by human rights activists.[2]

HMP Belmarsh
Aerial view of HM Prison Belmarsh (centre).
To the left is HMP Isis, to the right is HMP Thameside
LocationWestern Way, Thamesmead,
London, SE28 0EB
Security classAdult Male/Category A
Population675 (as of August 2021)
Opened1991; 33 years ago (1991)
Managed byHM Prison Services
GovernorJenny Louis
WebsiteBelmarsh at justice.gov.uk

History edit

Belmarsh Prison was built on part of the East site of the former Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, and became operational on 2 April 1991. It adjoins Woolwich Crown Court.[3]

Between 2001 and 2002, Belmarsh Prison was used to detain a number of people indefinitely without charge or trial under the provisions of Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, leading it to be called the "British version of Guantanamo Bay".[4] 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 1998.[5]

It is often used for the detention of prisoners for terrorist-related offences. In September 2006, 51 such prisoners were held.[6]

In 2009, an archaeological dig on the site led to the discovery of a 6,000-year-old trackway, the oldest known wooden trackway in northern Europe with the exception of the Sweet Track near Glastonbury.[7]

In November 2009, an inspection report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised the "extremely high" amount of force used to control inmates.[8] The report also stated that an unusually high number of prisoners had reported being intimidated or victimised by staff.

In 2010, HMP Isis Young Offenders Institution was opened within the perimeter wall.[9]

The prison today edit

Car park and main entrance

Belmarsh is a Category A Prison holding inmates from all over England and Wales. It also houses other categories of prisoners from primarily the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) and Magistrates' Courts in South East London as well as 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.[10]

Inmates at Belmarsh are offered access to education, workshops[10] and two gyms. The gym staff have a partnership with Charlton Athletic F.C. to deliver FA accredited coaching courses for prisoners.[11]

A listener scheme for prisoners at risk from suicide or self-harm is in operation as is a support group providing advice on immigration law for foreign national prisoners.[10]

Notable inmates edit

Current inmates edit

Former inmates edit

References edit

  1. ^ Wikileaks-Sponsored ‘States of Violence’ Exhibition
  2. ^ "In Belmarsh Prison: Radicalization or De-radicalization?". Pulitzer Center. 30 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  3. ^ "Law Courts and Courtrooms 1: The Buildings of the Criminal Law". Historic England. 1 August 2016. p. 12. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Belmarsh – Britain's Guantanamo Bay?". BBC News. 6 October 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Data". The Times Online. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  6. ^ Tony McNulty Written Answers, 8 September 2006 col. 1701W Home Department – Terrorism
  7. ^ Anon (12 August 2009). "London's earliest timber structure found during Belmarsh prison dig". physorg.com News. PhysOrg.com. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  8. ^ "'High levels' of force at prison". BBC News. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  9. ^ "HMP/YOI Isis – improving prison with many young men which must address violence and force".
  10. ^ a b c "Belmarsh Prison". 2 August 2022.
  11. ^ "CACT Over 25 Years". cact.org.uk. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Ali Harbi Ali appears at Old Bailey over murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess". Sky News. 22 October 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Sir David Amess: Man found guilty of murdering MP". BBC News. 11 April 2022. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  14. ^ Rebaza, Claudia; Siad, Arnaud; Britton, Bianca (13 April 2019). "British MPs urge government to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden". CNN. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Priti Patel, hear this loud and clear: Julian Assange must not be handed over to the US | Duncan Campbell". The Guardian. 10 May 2022.
  16. ^ Kirk, Tristan (14 July 2021). "Motorist admits killing two people in Romford pile-up". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  17. ^ Rowlands, Saskia; Perrin, Ben (29 October 2023). "Rapist police officer 'beaten black and blue' spends 23-hours-a-day in jail cell". Birmingham Live. Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  18. ^ Casciani, Dominic (28 October 2015). "Soho nail bomber David Copeland sentenced for prison attack". BBC News.
  19. ^ "Sgt Matiu Ratana shooting: Killer Louis De Zoysa will never be freed". BBC News. 27 July 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  20. ^ "What happened to the 'Night Stalker' depicted in Manhunt after he was caught by Colin Sutton". inews.com. 30 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Wembley park killings: Danyal Hussein jailed for life for murdering sisters". BBC News. 28 October 2021. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  22. ^ Vaughan, Henry (11 September 2023). "Daniel Khalife escaped prison using material which may have been from bed sheets, court hears". Sky News. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  23. ^ Hill, Patrick (26 November 2016). "Serial killer Stephen Port's jail letters include boasts of bedding TV star". Daily Mirror.
  24. ^ "Reading stabbings: Terror suspect Khairi Saadallah appears at Old Bailey". BBC News. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Manchester attack plotter Hashem Abedi refusing to participate in prison deradicalisation programme". ITV News. 28 July 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  27. ^ "Michael Adebolajo 'attacked in jail'". BBC News. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  28. ^ "Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale plead not guilty to Woolwich". London Evening Standard. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  29. ^ "Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebowale in hospital with Covid-19". BBC News. 25 January 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  30. ^ 1999: Liar Aitken jailed for 18 months BBC News
  31. ^ "Abu Hamza: from Soho bouncer to hook-handed cleric of hate." The Daily Telegraph. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  32. ^ De Simone, Daniel (3 February 2020). "Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Radical preacher Anjem Choudary to stand trial on terror charges". BBC News. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Sarah Everard murder: Wayne Couzens given whole-life sentence". BBC News. 30 September 2021. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  36. ^ "Richard Huckle filmed himself abusing children and shared videos and pictures with fellow paedophiles on the dark web". Sky News. 1 June 2016.
  37. ^ "Prolific Paedophile Gets 22 Life Sentences". Sky News. 6 June 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  38. ^ Evans, Martin; Bird, Steve; Wilford, Greg (30 November 2019). "Who was Usman Khan? The attacker who hoodwinked authorities to fulfil his terrorism dream of targeting London". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  39. ^ "Ex-inmate MP condemns UK prisons". BBC News. 12 August 2014.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ Aspden, Kester (6 December 2019). "The making of a bedsit Nazi: who was the man who killed Jo Cox?". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  42. ^ Quadri, Sami (2 May 2023). "Prison worker 'suspended for kissing Zara Aleena's killer'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  43. ^ "Zara Aleena's killer Jordan McSweeney leaves sentence appeal hearing". BBC News. 20 October 2023. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  44. ^ Ross, Alice (27 June 2017). "Finsbury Park accused Darren Osborne appears at Old Bailey". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  45. ^ "Darren Osborne jailed for life for Finsbury Park terrorist attack". The Guardian. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  46. ^ "Finsbury Park mosque attacker fears eye loss after prison stabbing". BBC News. 11 September 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  47. ^ Moore, Steven (29 December 2020). "Essex lorry deaths: Truck driver Mo Robinson 'haunted' by memory of his crime". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  48. ^ Pennink, Emily (18 November 2021). "Migrant deaths driver to sell 4×4 and watch to compensate victims' families". Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  49. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (15 March 2007). "Renegade ex-MI6 officer will not be prosecuted". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2021.

External links edit

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