Where is HMP Belmarsh prison and which high-profile criminals are held at the Category A men’s jail in London?

HMP Belmarsh houses Britain’s most dangerous convicts so conditions inside are high security.

Some of the highest-profile lawbreakers in the UK have been jailed in Belmarsh prison and are the subject of the documentary HMP Belmarsh: Evil Behind Bars TV.

Belmarsh prison can hold up to 910 criminals

Where is HMP Belmarsh prison?

His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is in Western Way, London, SE28 0EB in England.

The category A prison holds male prisoners who, if they were to escape, could pose a threat to the public, the police or national security.

Belmarsh Prison has earned the nickname Hellmarsh due to its reputation as one of the UK’s toughest prisons and the numerous reports of physical and authority abuses from both inmates and human rights activists.

Notably, former politician and convicted criminal Jeffrey Archer, who served a four-year sentence there for perjury, is credited with coining the term.

From 2001 to 2002, Belmarsh Prison held several suspects indefinitely without charge or trial, as allowed by Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

This practice led to Belmarsh being labelled the “British version of Guantanamo Bay”.

Later, the Law Lords deemed this type of detention discriminatory and a violation of the Human Rights Act 1998 in the case A v Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Belmarsh is often used to detain those accused of terrorism-related offences. As of September 2006, the prison housed 51 such inmates.

When did Belmarsh prison open?

Belmarsh Prison was built on part of the former Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, and became operational on 2 April 1991.

Upon its opening, Belmarsh was the first adult male prison established in London since Wormwood Scrubs in 1874.

Who owns Belmarsh prison?

The centre is run by His Majesty’s Prison Service.

HMPS is the part of His Majesty’s Government charged with managing most of the prisons within England and Wales.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own prison services.

How many prisoners are at Belmarsh prison?

The category A prison has a maximum capacity of 910, across four main units, made up of single, double and triple cells.

However, as of August 2021, there are 675 prisoners being held there.

Who are the prison’s most famous inmates?

Abu Hamza

PA:Press Association Hamza gained notoriety for his hate filled preaching at Finsbury Park Mosque[/caption]

The former imam, known for the hook he has for a hand, preached Islamic fundamentalism at Finsbury Park mosque.

The Egyptian-born criminal was imprisoned in Belmarsh for incitement to murder in 2006.

On May 19, 2014, Hamza was convicted of eleven terrorism-related offences by a Manhattan jury.

He received a life sentence without parole on January 9, 2015.

He was nicknamed Captain Hook, a reference to the fictional pirate, because of his prosthetic hook devices.

CNN reported that he said he lost his hands and an eye “while tackling a landmine in Afghanistan”.

He was extradited to the US in 2012.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2015.

Charles Bronson

Charles Bronson has become known as the most violent prisoner in Britain

The criminal, dubbed Britain’s most violent prisoner, has spent periods of time in Belmarsh since being sentenced for armed robbery in 1976.

During his time at Belmarsh, he took three other prisoners hostage.

The 70-year old also found himself busy in prison by getting caught up in a love triangle.

It was reported by The Mirror, that Charles was seeing 30-year old model, Gemma Fernandez while writing love letters to his ex-wife Irene Dunroe.
In May 2024, the prisoner is understood to have landed four punches on Robert Donaldson after being ambushed by the killer.

The killer was jailed for murdering a man in 2005, as well as gagging a deaf 100-year-old woman and beating her elderly son.
Charles had hoped to be set free in 2023, however, he was denied parole.

PA:Press Association Julian Assange in a prison van on his way to a court appearance in London[/caption]

Julian Assange

The WikiLeaks founder has been kept at Belmarsh since May 2019 after he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail.

In November 2010, Sweden issued a European arrest warrant for Julian, for questioning in an investigation.

After losing his appeal against the warrant, he breached bail and took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London in June 2012.

On 11 April 2019, his asylum was revoked after several disagreements with the Ecuadorian authorities.

Consequently, police were allowed entry into the embassy where he was then arrested.

In November 2019, a group of doctors claimed that Assange was at risk of dying in prison due to his poor mental and physical health.

Things improved for Julian as he got married in prison on March 23, 2022 to lawyer Stella Moris.

The couple met while Julian was living in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

Julian won the first stage to an appeal to fight extradition to the United States, where he has espionage charges.

AFP – Getty Ian Huntley was jailed for life for the Soham murders[/caption]

Ian Huntley

Huntley was sent to Belmarsh following the murder of two 10-year-old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002.

He was later transferred to HMP Wakefield before being moved again to HMP Frankland in 2008.

Huntley recorded a confession in 2018 saying that thinks “about them every day.”

He said: “What I will say is that I am so terribly, terribly sorry for what I have done.

“I know the people of Soham took me into their community, they trusted me, gave me a job and a home, and I betrayed them in the worst possible way.

“And I am sorry for what I have done, sorry for the pain I have caused to the families and friends of Holly and Jessica, for the pain I have caused my family and friends, and for the pain I have caused the community of Soham.”

Corbis Ronnie Biggs earned a reputation as the most famous of the gang after he escaped prison and went on the run for more than 35 years[/caption]

Ronnie Biggs

The train robber was sent to Belmarsh after he returned to the UK from Brazil in 2001, having escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965.

Biggs remained in Belmarsh for six years until he was transferred to Norwich Prison on compassionate grounds due to his failing health.

Ronnie was part of 15-men gang that attacked a Royal Mail train on its way from Glasgow to London which was said to be carrying vasts amounts of cash by a postal worker, nicknamed the Ulsterman.

He died aged 84 in 2013 in a North London care home.

ITV Tommy Robinson, who co-founded the EDL in 2009, has had numerous run-ins with the law[/caption]

Tommy Robinson

The far right extremist whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was recently released from Belmarsh after serving half of his 19 week sentence for contempt of court.

He was supposed to attend court in March 2022 but missed the hearing after his barrister, Oliver McEntee told judge Mr Justice Nicklin: “He has been suffering from a number of mental health issues he says are attributable to harassment by a number of individuals.”

Other inmates are:

Michael Adebolajo who murdered British soldier Lee Rigby.
Ali Harbi Ali who was charged with the murder of MP David Amess.
Paul ‘Des’ Ballard who was a TV presenter and caused death by dangerous driving and was involved in other crimes such as rape.
David Copeland bombed a gay pub, Brixton Market and Brick Lane.
Delroy Grant also known as the Night Stalker who had committed a series of raping and burglar offences.
Danyal Hussein murdered two sisters in a park in London.
Stephen Port is known as the Grindr Killer who murdered four men and was also involved in rape crimes.
Khairi Saadallah stabbed three people to death and injured others in a park in Reading.

The second part of the documentary airs on Channel 5 on June 13 at 10pm.

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