HM Prison Berwyn

HM Prison Berwyn (Welsh: Carchar Berwyn EM) (Welsh: ['bɛrwɪn]) is a £250 million[2] Category C adult male prison in Wrexham County Borough, Wales. It is the largest prison in the UK, opened in 2017, and is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.[3]

HMP Berwyn
LocationWrexham, Wrexham County Borough
Security classAdult Male/Category C
Population1,730 [1] (as of July 2020)
Opened28 February 2017
Managed byHM Prison Service
GovernorNick Leader


The gaol's name was announced by then-Governor Russ Trent on 17 February 2016. The name Berwyn comes from the elements of Middle Welsh barr (summit, peak) and gwyn (white). A spokesperson for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) said that the prison had been named after the Welsh mountain range.[4] The original shortlist of six names was: Bridgeway, Marcher, Cerrig Tân, Dee Vale, Whittlesham and Y Berwyn.[5] These names were suggested by local schools, communities and historical societies.[5]


The prison is split into three houses, the first, Bala[6] opening in February 2017 and the other two, Alwen[6] and Ceiriog[6] in the autumn. Each section can hold different communities including one for armed forces veterans.


It was designed to house 2100 men and to be the cheapest to run Category C prison in the country, with a projected cost of £14,000 per inmate. However as of 2019, it is still incomplete, only 60% full and costs £36,000 per prisoner each year.[7]

Enforced cell sharingEdit

The prison was planned to be at 75% capacity by the end of 2017[8] but in June 2018, 16 months after opening, the prison was still only half full. It has been suggested that this is due to the contentious design of the prison, which requires a high proportion of prisoners to share cells, to cut costs.[9][better source needed] Prior to the design of Berwyn, the Prison Service worked on the basis that one person to a cell was the norm.[citation needed]


The 'Bala controversy'Edit

In 2017, residents of the town Bala in Gwynedd were angered by the use of their town's name for one of the prison's houses,[10][11] with a petition being started,[10][11] to get the name changed. The petition received over 400 signatures.[11]

Suspension of GovernorEdit

The first governor, Russ Trent[12] who had also served as project director,[12] was suspended on 21 August 2018 following unspecified allegations. These allegations relate to a relationship with a female prison offer who was arrested and charged with misconduct in a public office. Nick Leader assumed the role of Governor in April 2019.[13]


  1. ^ "An insight into 'Britain's cushiest jail' as former inmate at controversial super prison HMP Berwyn speaks out". ITV News. 5 July 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  2. ^ "First inmates move to HMP Berwyn super-prison, Wrexham". BBC News Online. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Wrexham jail to be run by public sector". Financial Times. 24 February 2015.
  4. ^ "New Prison Will Be Called HMP Berwyn". 17 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b Bagnall, Steve (7 December 2015). "Wrexham prison names shortlist revealed". Daily Post.
  6. ^ a b c Grieve, Jonathan (1 March 2017). "Wrexham's new £212m prison 'can be force for good' as first inmates arrive". The Leader. Retrieved 25 August 2017. The facility is split into three blocks [...] named after bodies of water in North Wales – Alwen, Bala and Ceiriog.
  7. ^ Wainwright, Oliver (2 September 2019). "Epic jail: inside the UK's optimised 'super-prison' warehouses". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Freedom of Information Act Request 109533". January 2017.
  9. ^ "Half-empty super prison is 'on track', says UK government". Financial Times. 28 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Berwyn prison wing name angers Bala, Gwynedd residents". BBC News Wales. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017. A decision to name a wing at the UK's newest prison after a Gwynedd town has sparked anger among its residents [...] a petition has been started to change it.
  11. ^ a b c Sheehan, Rory (15 March 2017). "Council backs Bala name change at Wrexham's HMP Berwyn". Powys County Times. Retrieved 28 August 2017. Councillors have backed a campaign calling for place names to be removed from Wrexham's prison [...] More than 400 people have now signed the petition as it gathers momentum.
  12. ^ a b "Background Information - North Wales Prison in Wrexham". Wrexham County Borough Council.
  13. ^ "Suspended prison chief back at work". 10 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.

Coordinates: 53°2′7.09″N 2°55′35.86″W / 53.0353028°N 2.9266278°W / 53.0353028; -2.9266278