HMP Thameside Overview

HMP Thameside, a modern Category B men’s prison, is located in Thamesmead, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, South-East London. Opened in 2012, this facility is the only private prison in London and is operated by Serco. The prison’s primary role is to house convicted and remand male prisoners, offering a range of services aimed at rehabilitation and reintegration into society.


HMP Thameside

Location and Capacity

HMP Thameside is situated next to HMP Belmarsh and HMP Isis, forming a significant part of the Thamesmead correctional complex. The prison has a certified normal accommodation capacity of 932 but can accommodate up to 1232 inmates under operational conditions, reflecting its ability to manage both convicted and remand prisoners efficiently​​​​.


Facilities and Daily Life at HMP Thameside

HMP Thameside features five wings, each divided into upper and lower units, providing accommodation primarily in single rooms. These rooms are equipped with essential amenities such as a bed, storage, toilet, and integrated shower, emphasizing the prison’s focus on privacy and inmate welfare​​​​.

The prison operates a structured daily routine that balances work, education, and leisure activities. Inmates have access to various vocational training programs, educational courses ranging from basic literacy to Open University degrees, and employment opportunities within the prison. Sporting facilities, including an all-weather football pitch, two gyms, and a sports hall, support an active and healthy lifestyle​​​​.

Healthcare and Support Services

A dedicated healthcare unit staffed by qualified professionals provides comprehensive medical services, including mental health support and substance misuse treatment. The prison also maintains a chaplaincy service catering to multiple faiths, ensuring that the spiritual needs of inmates are met​​​​.

Family Contact and Visitations

Maintaining family ties is crucial for inmate rehabilitation, and HMP Thameside facilitates this through regular visiting hours and support services for prisoners’ families. Visitors must book their visits in advance, and stringent security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all parties. The visiting hall includes amenities such as a tea/coffee area and a children’s play area​​​​.

Resettlement and Rehabilitation Programs

HMP Thameside places a strong emphasis on resettlement support, providing inmates with pre-release planning and assistance with housing, employment, and access to community-based support services. These efforts aim to reduce recidivism and support the successful reintegration of inmates into society​​​​.

Challenges and Criticisms

Despite its modern facilities, HMP Thameside has faced criticism, particularly regarding the levels of violence and restricted regimes in its early years. Reports have highlighted issues such as high levels of assaults and significant periods during which inmates were confined to their cells. However, subsequent inspections have acknowledged improvements in accommodation quality and efforts to address these concerns


  1. What is the capacity of HMP Thameside? HMP Thameside has a certified normal accommodation capacity of 932 and can house up to 1232 inmates operationally.

  2. What types of prisoners are held at HMP Thameside? HMP Thameside holds convicted and remand male prisoners, including both young adults and adults.

  3. What facilities are available at HMP Thameside? The prison offers single-room accommodation with private amenities, vocational training, educational programs, healthcare services, and recreational facilities.

  4. How can I visit an inmate at HMP Thameside? Visits must be booked in advance by the inmates themselves. Visitors need to bring photo ID and proof of address and will undergo security checks upon arrival.

  5. What support services are available for families of inmates? HMP Thameside provides various support services, including family contact and resettlement assistance, to help maintain and strengthen family relationships.

  6. What is the focus of HMP Thameside’s rehabilitation programs? The prison focuses on vocational training, education, and employment opportunities to aid in the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

  7. How is healthcare managed at HMP Thameside? A dedicated healthcare unit staffed by qualified professionals provides comprehensive medical services, including mental health and substance misuse support.

  8. What criticisms has HMP Thameside faced? The prison has faced criticism for violence and restricted regimes in its early years but has made improvements in these areas.

  9. What religious services are available at HMP Thameside? The prison offers multi-faith chaplaincy services, catering to the spiritual needs of inmates from various religious backgrounds.

  10. How can families support inmates at HMP Thameside? Families can support inmates by maintaining regular contact through visits, letters, and phone calls, and by utilizing the support services provided by the prison.

Summary and Conclusion

HMP Thameside is a modern, privately operated Category B men’s prison located in Thamesmead, London. Since its opening in 2012, it has aimed to provide secure custody and effective rehabilitation for its inmates through a range of educational, vocational, and support services. While it has faced challenges, the prison continues to strive for improvements in inmate welfare and resettlement support.

For more information, you can visit our other prison pages such as HMP Swinfen Hall 

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