HMP Wakefield: Prison inspectors give verdict on life inside maximum security 'Monster Mansion' jail

HMP Wakefield is home to some of the most challenging prisoners in the country.
HMP Wakefield is home to some of the most challenging prisoners in the country.

Inspectors have praised a high security jail in Wakefield for achieving a calm and orderly atmosphere despite holding some of the “most challenging” prisoners in the country.

HMP Wakefield – known locally as Monster Mansion – holds up to 700 men, the majority of whom have been convicted for sexual or violent offences.

Read more: What did inspectors say about HMP Wakefield in 2017?

Some 60 per cent of the prisoners in the Category A facility are serving life or indeterminate sentences for public protection, with almost half aged 50 or over and the oldest man aged 91.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, today said: “The vast majority were serving sentences of more than 10 years, and included some of the most challenging and complex prisoners in the country. Despite this, the prison was calm and had an atmosphere that spoke of good order, safety, security and decency.”

Inspectors found an “impressive set of initiatives and good work” which could be shared across the prison service as good practice.

Read more: Prison officer exchanged love letters and sex messages with inmate at Wakefield jail

However, the inspection carried out in June 2018 identified “a problem that was not unique to Wakefield, but which was particularly acute there.”

This involved “totally unacceptable” delays in the transfer of prisoners under the Mental Health Act to secure accommodation.

Mr Clarke said he was taking the unusual step of making a direct recommendation to the Prisons Minister in the hope of action to address the problem.

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Michael Spurr, chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service, said the quality of work done at Wakefield was a “credit to managers and staff”.

"The governor will use the recommendations in this report to further develop the establishment to meet the needs of its prisoners," he added.