HM Prison Durham is a local Category B men’s prison, located in the Elvet area of Durham in County Durham, England.
Durham Prison was built in the early 19th century, and is adjacent to Durham’s Crown Courts. The prison has held a variety of different categories of prisoners, both male and female over the course of its history. Numerous judicial executions took place on the gallows at Durham prison between 1869 and 1958. The final execution took place on 17 December 1958, when Private Brian Chandler (aged 20) was hanged for the murder of Martha Dodd during the course of theft. Chandler was a soldier, based at Catterick camp, who beat 83 year old Dodd to death with a hammer.
In 2001, Durham (which was a Category A prison for men and women at the time) was praised by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for its progressive regime, integration of inmates and falling levels of violence. However in 2003 it was revealed that Durham had the highest suicide rate of all prisons in England.
In 2004, a further report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised Durham Prison for being severely overcrowded. The report also highlighted the lack of education and work opportunities for inmates at the prison.
HMP Durham previously operated a female high security wing with 120 prisoners but this was discontinued and the prisoners transferred elsewhere following reports from HM Inspectorate of Prisons concluding that HMP Durham was unsuitable for housing female prisoners, following several suicides.
On 13th July 2011, it was announced that along with several other prisons, HMP Durham would be put up for market testing
The prison today
Durham is currently a Category B local prison for convicted and remand adult male prisoners, primarily serving the courts of County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Teesside. Accommodation at the prison is divided into 7 wings plus Segregation and Healthcare sections.
Durham Prison offers full and part time education to all inmates. Courses include data input, bricklaying, woodwork, painting and decorating, waste management and gardening.
Notable former inmates
Rose West: British serial killer
Myra Hindley: Serial child killer
Mary Ann Cotton: convicted of murdering her children and believed to have murdered up to 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning.
Ian Brady: Serial child killer
John Straffen: Treble child killer