HMP Wakefield: An Overview

HMP Wakefield, known as “Monster Mansion,” is the largest maximum-security prison in the United Kingdom. Situated in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, this Category A men’s prison has a notorious reputation, housing some of the country’s most dangerous criminals.


HMP Wakefield

History of HMP Wakefield

HMP Wakefield was established in 1594 as a house of correction. Its long history includes usage as a work camp during World War I and a detention center for IRA prisoners post-war. In 1966, it was designated a Dispersal prison, a classification it retains to this day. The facility has seen many changes and expansions over the centuries, adapting to the evolving needs of the UK’s penal system.


Notable Inmates

HMP Wakefield has been home to several infamous inmates, including serial killers Harold Shipman and Ian Huntley. Known for housing the worst of the worst, the prison’s strict security measures are a testament to its role in containing high-risk offenders. Notably, Robert Maudsley, often referred to as Britain’s most dangerous prisoner, is kept in a specially designed glass cell within the prison​​​​.

Current Status and Capacity

HMP Wakefield holds approximately 751 inmates, with around 100 classified as Category A prisoners, the highest security level. The prison also includes a Close Supervision Centre (CSC), designed for the most challenging and high-risk inmates. These units provide a structured and therapeutic environment to manage their complex needs​​​​.

Facilities and Services

HMP Wakefield offers a range of facilities aimed at the welfare and rehabilitation of its inmates. These include:

  • Accommodation: Individual cells equipped with basic amenities.
  • Healthcare: An on-site healthcare unit providing primary medical services, mental health support, and substance abuse programs.
  • Education and Work: Limited educational and work opportunities to aid in rehabilitation.
  • Family Contact: Facilitates visits and maintains family connections under strict guidelines​​​​.

Life Inside HMP Wakefield

Life in HMP Wakefield is marked by strict routines and high security. The prison is infamous for its harsh conditions and the violence that sometimes erupts among inmates. Despite these challenges, efforts are made to provide a degree of normalcy and rehabilitation opportunities for the inmates.

Recent News and Developments

In recent years, HMP Wakefield has been the subject of media attention, particularly for its high-profile inmates and the strict measures taken to ensure security. The prison’s nickname, “Monster Mansion,” reflects its notorious status within the UK prison system. Recent inspections have highlighted both strengths and areas for improvement, particularly regarding the treatment of inmates with severe mental health issues​


1. What is HMP Wakefield known for? HMP Wakefield is known as “Monster Mansion” due to its history of housing some of the UK’s most dangerous criminals.

2. Who are some of the notorious inmates at HMP Wakefield? Notable inmates include Harold Shipman, Ian Huntley, and Robert Maudsley.

3. What type of prison is HMP Wakefield? HMP Wakefield is a Category A men’s prison, indicating the highest level of security.

4. Where is HMP Wakefield located? HMP Wakefield is located in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.

5. What is the capacity of HMP Wakefield? The prison can hold approximately 751 inmates.

6. Does HMP Wakefield offer rehabilitation programs? Yes, the prison offers limited educational and work opportunities aimed at rehabilitation.

7. How can I visit an inmate at HMP Wakefield? Visits can be booked online or via the telephone booking line. Specific visiting hours apply.

8. What are the security measures like at HMP Wakefield? The prison implements rigorous security measures to manage its high-risk inmates effectively.

9. Has HMP Wakefield been featured in the media? Yes, HMP Wakefield frequently appears in media reports due to its notorious inmates and high-security status.

10. What historical significance does HMP Wakefield hold? HMP Wakefield has a long history dating back to 1594 and has served various roles, including a work camp during World War I.

Summary and Conclusion

HMP Wakefield stands as a testament to the UK’s penal system’s ability to manage its most dangerous offenders. With a history spanning over four centuries, it continues to play a crucial role in maintaining public safety. Despite its reputation, the prison works towards rehabilitating inmates and providing necessary services to support their well-being.

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

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