What is Styal Prison Like?

Overhead view of Styal Prison with its lush gardens

What is Styal Prison Like? – A Detailed Look into the Female Prison in Cheshire


Ever wondered what life is like behind the walls of Styal Prison? Located in Cheshire, this female prison has garnered praise for its semi-open regime and excellent staff-prisoner relationships. Let’s delve into its history, amenities, and life inside its walls.

A Brief History

Styal Prison opened its doors in 1962 and is operated by HM Prison Service. With a capacity of 486 inmates, it primarily serves as a facility for female offenders. Over the years, the prison has integrated several positive initiatives aimed at improving inmate rehabilitation and management.


The prison is situated in the leafy setting of Cheshire, providing a serene environment that benefits both staff and inmates.

What is Styal Prison Like?

What is Styal Prison Like?

What’s it like for the Women Inmates?

Living Arrangements
Rather than living in traditional prison wings, women here reside in houses. This unique semi-open regime allows inmates to cater for themselves and move freely within designated areas.

Self-Sufficiency and Skills Training
Styal offers valuable resources like Recycling Lives and The Clink restaurant where ROTL’d (Release on Temporary Licence) women can work. They also offer an excellent hair & beauty course and physical training qualifications.

Peer Support
The prison has a robust peer support system, including elected wing representatives who meet bi-monthly with the Senior Management Team (SMT).

Outdoor Spaces
One of the notable features that inmates appreciate is the lush outdoor spaces, complete with gardens and ducks, which contribute to an enabling environment.

Staff’s Perspective

Officers’ Views
Officers regard their relations with inmates as good and emphasise the role staff and peer mentors play in caring for new prisoners. Staff appreciate the monthly family days and twice-yearly lifer days organised by external organisations like POPS and Phoenix Futures.

Management’s Views
Management praises the training that staff receive, especially in trauma-informed care, which has had a significant positive impact on relationships with the inmates. They also speak highly of the Prison Council and Mother & Baby unit.

In The News

Styal Prison has received positive news coverage for its approach to rehabilitation and inmate management, as well as for its focus on well-being, yoga & meditation for staff.


Styal Prison stands out as a unique facility with its semi-open regime and focus on rehabilitation. Its tranquil location and comprehensive programmes make it one of the UK’s more progressive institutions for female inmates. Whether you are looking at it from the perspective of an inmate, officer, or manager, Styal Prison offers an environment aimed at holistic growth and positive change.

What is Styal Prison Like?