Inside The Sex Offenders Prison

Tuesday 31 March



Documentary filmmaker Rex Bloomstein gains unprecedented access to HMP Whatton in Nottinghamshire – the largest sex offender prison in Europe – to investigate how its inmates are rehabilitated for release.

There are now more sex offenders in the prison system than ever before – around 11,000 in England and Wales. HMP Whatton, with its 841 prisoner capacity, is a specialist treatment centre for sex offenders, of whom 70 per cent have committed crimes against children.

In this programme, Rex has been given a unique opportunity to explore the methods used to ensure prisoners confront their criminal behaviour in preparation for their return to the community.

The prison’s governor, Lynn Saunders, describes Whatton as ‘a great leveller, prisoners come from all walks of life’, and offenders against children and adults are mixed together in the prison’s numerous sex offender treatment programmes.

Candid prisoner interviews at the heart of this documentary reveal the impact of the treatment programmes, and help Rex discover a paradox: many sex offenders feel intense shame and guilt about their crimes, yet he learns that such emotions are a huge barrier to the treatment process, as the prison’s staff work hard to restore offenders’ self-esteem, which is deemed crucial to their rehabilitation.

As the majority of Whatton’s prisoners will be released, Rex considers the issue of risk – how certain can we be that these men won’t commit terrible crimes again?

Presenter/Rex Bloomstein, Producer/Simon Jacobs for Unique Productions

BBC Radio 4 Publicity