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24 September 2014

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Doing time in Leicester
HMP Leicester 1890
An inside view - the prison courtyard in 1890
Read a prisoner's diary and learn more about HMP Leicester. Then test your real knowledge of crime and punishment with our quiz
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The prison population topped 70,000 for the first time in March 2002. It is currently 71,532.

The prison service has 140 establishments (including privately managed prisons).

There are around 5,000 life sentence prisoners in England and Wales.

The prison service claims there has been a 95% reduction in escapes since 1993.

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Prisoner's diary:

quote Saturday 7 September 2002

Woke up this morning around 5am. Can't sleep very well. Haven't been able to for quite some time. WHY??? I've been here 7 weeks and it feels like 7 years. Every day is much like the last. There's no change in routine, which is why things seem to go so slow all the time. I have a tendency to think that if things don't change,

HMP Leicester now - the highest prison walls in the country

they never will. I mean I've been coming to prison on and off now for the last 18 years. I just can't seem to break out of the rut I've got myself into. To be truthful things couldn't get any worse. I mean, 18 years ago when I first came into prison, I thought things couldn't get any worse. They put me in a cell with two other people, the cells was only 12' x 9' x 6'. So things were pretty cramped to say the least. The whole prison was the same. Overcrowded is quite an understatement. That was 18 years ago and to be truthful things aren't much better 18 years on. All right, we now have toilets and sinks instead of buckets and bowls. But the prisons are still overcrowded Apparently theses cells are supposed to be for one person only, not two or three like some are. I will admit that some things are better these days. The food is certainly of a better standard. Plus now, you are subject to incentives and privileges. This means that if you behave yourself you're able to gain certain ext ra privileges, e.g. after 4 weeks being here you can go on an enhanced

Gainful employment - sewing mailbags in 1955
Prison life in 1955 - sewing mailbags at Leicester
regime, where you get 1 extra visit a month You're able to spend £15 instead of £10 a week out of your own private spends. You also have a telly put into your cell. But if you don't behave yourself you may lose privileges, which means you go on basic regime, £2.50 wages a week, £5 private cash and only two and a half hours closed visiting a month. This is the same as most prisons. But Leicester Prison is about the only prison in this country that is still quite away behind the rest. For instance, in most other prisons you are given a cell with a telly already in it. quote

Get to know your local gaol:

HMP Leicester is also known round these parts as Welford Road Prison.

is a local prison, receiving prisoners directly from court on remand, or newly sentenced prisoners.

It was originally intended for 199 prisoners. It now has 371 - mostly two to a cell. It only houses men over the age of 21.

80% of Leicester's inmates are local to Leicestershire and Rutland, serving sentences from 14 days to life.

Welford Road prison is a category B prison that takes offenders of all crimes.

It contains prisoners for whom the highest security is not necessary, but for whom escape must be made very difficult.

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For more on HMP Leicester, listen to BBC Radio Leicester 104.9FM between 6am and 9am on Crime Day, Wednesday 18th September. The Good Morning Leicester programme with Ben Jackson will be broadcast from the prison.

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