Entrance to Wormwood Scrubs Prison
|Location||Wormwood Scrubs, London|
|Security class||Adult Male/Category B|
|Population||1,227(as of 11 August 2017 )|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Street address||Du Cane Road|
|City||London, W12 0AE|
|Website||Wormwood Scrubs at justice.gov.uk|
HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs (nicknamed "The Scrubs") is a Category B men's local prison, located opposite Hammersmith Hospital and W12 Conferences on Du Cane Road in the White City in West London, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.
The prison lies at the southern end of the ancient park of the same name. The name "Scrubs" refers to scrubland while "Wormwood" is "snake wood" in Old English; in other words the area was once known as a snake-infested woodland area.
The initial steps in the winter of 1874 involved the construction of a small prison made of corrugated iron and a temporary shed to serve as a barracks for the warders. Nine specially picked prisoners, all within a year of release, completed the buildings, after which 50 more prisoners were brought to erect a second temporary prison wing. Building then began on the permanent prison, with bricks being manufactured on site.
By the summer of 1875, enough bricks had been prepared to build the prison's first block and its ground floor was finished as winter began. Construction was completed in 1891.The designer was Sir Edmund Frederick Du Cane, who gave his name to the prison's road.
During the Second World War, the prison was taken over by the War Department and the prisoners were evacuated to other prisons. The Security Service (MI5) was based at Wormwood Scrubs from 1939 to 1940.
In 1979, IRA prisoners staged a rooftop protest over visiting rights. Sixty inmates and several prison officers were injured. [ citation needed ]In 1982, an inquiry blamed much of the difficulties on failings in prison management. The Governor, John McCarthy, had quit before the rioting. In a letter to The Times, he had described Wormwood Scrubs as a "penal dustbin".
In the 1990s, a police investigation into allegations of staff brutality resulted in the suspension of 27 prison officers and the conviction of six for assault, though three later won appeals against conviction. The Prison Service paid out more than three million pounds in out-of-court settlements with ex-prisoners who had alleged brutality. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons delivered a damning report on the conditions, in which the prison was told to improve or close.
In March 2004, a further report from the Chief inspector stated that Wormwood Scrubs had greatly improved after making fundamental changes. Three quarters of inmates at the prison had said that staff treated them with respect, which was better than the national average. However, the report also stated that inmates spent too much time in their cells, and that only 36 per cent of eligible inmates were involved in education or work.
In November 2008, another report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector stated that conditions at Wormwood Scrubs had deteriorated since the last inspection. Heightened prison gang activity had been detected, and 20 percent of prisoners had failed drugs tests.
The prison cell blocks are a Grade II listed, with the gatehouse given the higher Grade II* rating.
Major structural changes to the prison's management took place in 2013. In 2014, another report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons was critical of the prison, describing it as "filthy". The inspectors also stated that there had been a failure to put into place recommendations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman to deal with suicide and self-harm. The Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, a charitable body, said "I have never seen a public service deteriorate so rapidly and so profoundly."
Wormwood Scrubs is a Category B prison for adult males, sentenced or on remand from the local courts. The prison has five main wings and a number of smaller dedicated units. All the accommodation has electricity and integral sanitation with a TV and accompanying bedroom furniture:
There is a contracted prison shop previously run by Aramark, but now run by DHL, which provides a selection of consumables for purchase by prisoners.
The two oval plaster reliefs on the front of the prison depict Elizabeth Fry and John Howard, both well known figures in prison reform.
In 2017, the prison was reportedly overcrowded and infested with rats and cockroaches. Some prisoners are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day. The prison is reportedly dangerous for staff and inmates, and officers are concerned for their safety. There are 40 to 50 violent incidents a month.Peter Clarke described “an extremely concerning picture” including, "intractable failings" continuing since earlier inspections from 2014.
In 2018, a prisoner was stabbed to death and three other prisoners were charged with his murder.
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In films and TV programmes set in Britain the front entrance of Wormwood Scrubs is frequently chosen as a location for scenes showing a character being released from prison, as, for example, in:
A two-part documentary, Wormwood Scrubs, was shown on ITV1 in May 2010.
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