The Top 15 Prisons In The UK, As Voted For By Ex-Inmates!

The Top 15 Prisons In The UK, As Voted For By Ex-Inmates!

The Top 15 Prisons In The UK, As Voted For By Ex-Inmates!

People use Google reviews for all kinds of things, whether it’s leaving a few kind words for their favourite restaurant or complaining about the service at a hotel. But did you know that online users are also rating the UK’s biggest prisons? Hundreds of former inmates have been leaving honest Google reviews of Her Majesty’s Prisons, so we thought it was high time to bring them all together and compile a list of the best jails in the country.

Some of the comments are hilarious, with ex-cons leaving shout outs to their friends who are still inside, whilst others are a sad and sorry indictment of the state of Britain’s prison system. Scroll down to find out which jails made the top 15 and why – frequent criticism points to lumpy mattresses and cockroaches, whilst on the positive side of things, some inmates were impressed by top-quality fish and chips, as well as the opportunity to make lots of money selling drugs.

15. HMP Birmingham – 2.1 stars, 14 reviews

HMP Birmingham is a Category B/C prison for male inmates. It was first opened in 1849 and according to a number of Google reviews, it seems as though prison conditions haven’t changed much since the Victorian era. Official government reports suggest that rat and cockroach infestations are on the rise, whilst the prison’s recent history of riots has left staff terrified. All of this seems to be backed up by recent negative reviews left online by former inmates:

Funnily enough, Birmingham used to have a reputation for being ‘soft’ on inmates, after one prisoner went on a two week holiday to Menorca whilst on weekend release! One former inmate seemed to get on with the prison officers anyway:

Just make sure if you’re visiting that you go to the toilet beforehand:

14. HMP Liverpool – 2.4 stars, 5 reviews

HMP Liverpool is another category B/C prison for adult males located in the Walton suburb of the city. Although HMP Liverpool bills itself as a ’21st century community prison’ rather than a holiday resort, some disgruntled former prisoners were deeply unhappy with both the food and the entertainment provided:

Not quite the same as a trip to Butlins then (or is it?). One recent visitor to the prison was rightly frustrated that his son’s dyslexia prevented the pair from being able to see one another:

If you do end up serving time at HMP Liverpool, make sure you avoid ‘The Real Sojjer’ who simply had this to say about his time at the prison:

13. HMP Rochester – 2.8 stars, 12 reviews

HMP Rochester doesn’t fare well in online reviews, with users torn between the great money you can make from drugs whilst you’re inside, compared to the godawful service that visitors have to put up with. The prison is a male Young Offenders Institution, but if Jack Muddiman’s review is anything to go by, it’s not really teaching inmates how to do much except rake in a load of money from dealing drugs to fellow prisoners:

Many of the reviews do paint a really positive picture of the prison:

However, HMP Rochester fares badly when it comes to visitor experience, with one user getting particularly frustrated at staff who refuse to answer the phone:

User Jon b put it a little more bluntly:

12. HMP Norwich – 3 stars, 8 reviews

HMP Norwich is a sprawling complex which holds both adults and juveniles. It’s also one of the only prisons in the UK to have a unit dedicated exclusively to elderly male prisoners, which means that it’s housed notorious older criminals such as train robber Ronnie Biggs and Anthony Sawoniuk, a Nazi war criminal who was tried back in 1999. One visitor was generally pleased with her experiences of visiting HMP Norwich, whilst a former inmate enjoyed the facility both times he was inside:


However, according to MrPrestige01, the prison does need to improve its postal service:

11. HMP Nottingham – 3.1 stars, 9 reviews

HMP Nottingham is a Category B prison located in the Sherwood area of Nottingham. It generally houses prisoners from the local counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The jail made headlines last year after a spate of deaths (mainly suicides) occurred in the prison within a couple of months, but that hasn’t stopped several former inmates from praising both the staff and facilities:

However, one user feels that the kitchen staff need to do a lot better:

10. HMP Dartmoor – 3.1 stars, 13 reviews

HMP Dartmoor is a Category C prison with a fascinating history. It has previously housed a number of political prisoners, including sailors and soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars, conscientious objectors during WWI and even Éamon de Valera, one of the architects of the Easter Rising in 1916. Many online reviewers appreciated the prison’s rich heritage:

Paul Hall was less impressed:

Meanwhile, one user had trouble grasping the basic notion of imprisonment:

9. HMP Wormwood Scrubs – 3.4 stars, 25 reviews

HMP Wormwood Scrubs (aka ‘The Scrubs’) is a facility for Category B male prisoners. It’s located in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and has previously housed the likes of Ian Brady, Charles Bronson and even Keith Richards (for one day only). Kitchen staff at the Scrubs will be pleased to note that their fish and chips offering is one of the most popular prison dishes in the UK! Ryan Gower praised the food and also one of the officers who leant him an extra pillow for his bed:

God-fearing ex-convict Ian Collingwood wasn’t as impressed that the exercise classes were held inside the chapel:

Sadly, Wormwood Scrubs could do with a major improvement when it comes to visitor experience. Several people complained about the staff and visiting hours:

8. HMP Edinburgh Saughton Prison – 3.6 stars, 12 reviews

HMP Edinburgh Saughton would almost look like a conference centre if it wasn’t for the giant lettering on the front which gives the game away. It holds male prisoners in the main facility and also has a unit for female inmates in Ratho Hall. Unfortunately, prison staff at Edinburgh’s jail don’t get much of a write-up from one user:

This Google reviewer has good advice for anyone considering trying to stay in the facility long-term:

Visitor Claire Archibald gives HMP Edinburgh a whopping 5 stars, even though it’s probably ‘not a nice place to stay’ if you’re an actual inmate:

However, Donald Crossley might beg to differ:

7. HMP New Hall – 3.7 stars, 6 reviews

HMP New Hall is a jail for female adults, juveniles and young offenders. It’s located in Flockton, just outside Wakefield, West Yorkshire and recently hit the headlines when five transgender prisoners were entered into the female population. Reviews of the prison are currently a mixed bag:

6. HMP Durham – 3.8 stars, 8 reviews

Up in the North East, HMP Durham is located in the centre of the UK’s smallest city and holds local Category B male inmates – the facility previously held female prisoners but they were moved in 2005 after a number of problems with overcrowding and suicide. Notable former inmates include Myra Hindley, Raoul Moat and Rose West. Like HMP New Hall, reviews of Durham are mixed, with one user unhappy about the quality of food:

Some people enjoyed the shared bathroom facilities, whilst others were less enthusiastic:

One user gave the prison a whopping five stars only one month ago, and is now getting ready to visit his brother at the facility:

Just as an aside, new inmates might want to steer clear of this guy:

5. HMP Lincoln – 4 stars, 4 reviews

HMP Lincoln is a category B men’s prison which is best known for its impressive High Victorian gothic design. People may be less aware of the horrendous drug problem that is currently plaguing the jail, with one disgruntled user criticising the widespread use of Black Mamba Cannabis amongst inmates:

Also, we’re not sure if Mick Bellamy was speaking from experience or if he’s just someone who likes to look on the positive side of life:

4. HMP Cardiff – 4.1 stars, 16 reviews

HMP Cardiff gets an impressive 4.1 stars amongst online users. The category B men’s prison has been criticised in recent years for its room-sharing policies and lack of recreational activities for inmates. However, gareth williams is pleased with the central location, if nothing else:

These two users only had good things to say about Cardiff:

3. HMP Pentonville – 4.3 stars, 21 reviews

Pentonville seems to have a reputation amongst ex-inmates as one of the cushier prisons in the UK, if these online reviews are anything to go by! HMP Pentonville is located near the Charing Cross area of Central London and has an unfortunate history of escapees. As recently as 2016, two inmates managed to escape after using diamond-cutting equipment to break through cell bars before scaling the walls and fleeing. Despite problems with keeping inmates locked up, it seems as though the vast majority of users have fond memories of Pentonville. It enjoys a reputation for being a great place to have a riot, which prison staff might not be so happy about:

Peter Davies wasn’t so enthusiastic about the holiday-type facilities and had this interesting pearl of wisdom to add to the list of Google reviews:


Nevertheless, iestyn rees is a huge fan:

2. HMP Leicester – 4.4 stars, 5 reviews

HMP Leicester is a local men’s prison located in the Southfield area of Leicester. It’s struggled in recent years with facilities that are no longer fit for purpose, and was once described as ‘Britain’s most overcrowded prison’. Online users would tend to agree:

However, it did receive a string of positive reviews from various users who were even tempted to visit HMP Leicester again in the future:

1. HMP Bullingdon –  5 stars, 7 reviews

HMP Bullingdon isn’t a secret society attended by the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson – it’s a prison and young offenders institute for category B and C male prisoners. It tops our list of prisons with a whopping five stars for its stand-out facilities. The jail has received glowing praise on Google, with many people highlighting the friendly staff and excellent standard of food, as well as the communal shower time…