HMP Bullingdon is a prison located in the South Central region of England. With a capacity for 1114 inmates, HMP Bullingdon is what you’d call a local prison as well as a category C training jail. It houses adult men who’ve been convicted as well as those awaiting trial. Most of the lads are from nearby – coming in from the courts in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. But they get a good few from London too.
The original facilities consisted of 4 cell blocks arranged in a T-shape, with 3 wings branching off from a central office on each floor. Since then, 2 additional units have been built to expand the site. Though the layout has been copied in newer prisons across the country, Bullingdon stands as the original 30-year old prototype.
|PO Box 50
Patrick Haugh Road
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|Male Cat C
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History Of HMP Bullingdon
HMP Bullingdon was constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, opening in February 1992. The original design consisted of 4 cell blocks arranged in a T-shape, with 3 wings branching off from a central office on each of the 3 floors. Each of these units could accommodate 190 prisoners, except for the Blackthorn unit holding 197. In April 1998, the Edgcott unit was added – an L-shaped quick-build structure with 2 wings and 2 floors, housing up to 181 inmates.
Extensive renovations are currently underway, including a refurbished reception area, a new unit, and auxiliary buildings. The prison was originally built with a uniform T-shaped layout for each cell block, housing around 190 prisoners per unit. Since then, additional units have expanded the capacity to over 1,000 inmates. Ongoing construction continues to upgrade facilities at the 30-year old HMP Bullingdon.
A Modern Day In Bullingdon Prison
HMP Bullingdon operates as both a local and training prison, managing a diverse mix of convicted prisoners, remand prisoners awaiting trial, and longer-term inmates needing substance abuse treatment or sex offender rehabilitation. Despite considerable organizational changes in recent years, this announced inspection found Bullingdon performing reasonably well across all measures of a healthy prison.
Overall, Bullingdon remains reasonably safe – new arrivals feel well treated, self-harm is low, segregation is satisfactory, and good substance abuse support exists. However, some areas need improvement like first night and induction processes being too informal, and insufficient responses to bullying. Use of force levels, though declining, are still high. We are concerned about inappropriate use of body belts to respond to threatened self-harm.
Most prisoners can participate in some purposeful activity, unlike at the previous inspection when time out of cell was over-reported. However, the quantity of education, work and training is insufficient to occupy prisoners most of the day. Some training is high quality but much is mundane without accreditation. Library and gym access are good.
Resettlement is well managed and offender management model work is advanced, although community offender managers are not fully engaged. OASys backlogs inhibit sentence planning and no custody planning exists for short stays. Reintegration services and an impressive range of rehabilitation programs are reasonable. Drug services are particularly good.
For a prison with a complex community role and recent organizational reforms, Bullingdon has risen commendably to many challenges. Naturally more progress is needed, but the sustained achievements during considerable pressure should not be obscured.
Most accommodation is reasonably good, but shared cells are cramped with poorly screened toilets. Staff-prisoner relationships vary and would benefit from an improved personal officer program. Prisoners vociferously complain about the food. Support for foreign nationals and addressing diversity issues needs reinforcement. Healthcare facilities have outgrown their space.
HMP Bullingdon underwent an inspection in October/November 2022 by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons. The 30-year old facility located near Bicester holds just under 1,000 adult male inmates, many on remand or serving short sentences.
Despite staff shortages and a high turnover population, inspectors found the prison to be reasonably safe and respectful, consistent with the previous inspection in 2019. However, opportunities for rehabilitation and release planning were still lacking, and the provision of purposeful activities for prisoners was now deemed inadequate.
New arrivals received decent support and assessment, but this was not extended enough to prepare them for productive use of their time. With severe staff shortages, most prisoners were confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day. Those with jobs still endured an insufficient regime. Ofsted gave the lowest rating of ‘inadequate’ for education, skills and work opportunities.
The aging infrastructure urgently requires investment and refurbishment. Prisoner consultation and peer support have improved, as has the promotion of equality. Healthcare was assessed as good overall. However, staff-prisoner relationships were hindered by the limited regime and low expectations.
Leaders acknowledged the challenges of high intensity operations with scarce resources. Some priorities need more focus, but good partnership initiatives are underway. The report outlines key concerns to assist leaders in improving the prison. The inspection team highlighted 12 key issues, 5 being top priorities requiring immediate action – chronic staff shortages, excessive time locked in cells, inappropriate education curriculum, lack of individual learning plans, and poor reading/literacy support.
To read the full reports, go to the Ministry of Justice site or follow the links below:
- Inspection report (906 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Bullingdon by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (24 October – 3 November 2022)
- HMP Bullingdon (1.03 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Bullingdon (1 – 12 July 2019)
- HMP Bullingdon (593.43 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Bullingdon (24 April–11 May 2017)
- HMP Bullingdon (PDF, 922.51 kB) Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Bullingdon (15 – 26 June 2015)
- HMP Bullingdon, Unannounced inspection of HMP Bullingdon (10-20 July 2012)
- HMP Bullingdon, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Bullingdon (19-23 July 2010)
- HMP Bullingdon, Unannounced follow-up inspection of HMP Bullingdon (14-18 January 2008)
Confidential Ex-inmate Reviews
I was at Bullingdon for 18 months and I’ve got to say it was one of the better prisons I’ve been in. The staff were pretty fair and treated you decent as long as you weren’t kicking off. I was in B-wing which wasn’t too noisy. The cells were basic but livable – typical prison cell with a bunk, toilet, and cabinet for your stuff. We got let out for exercise every day and I signed up for the gym which helped pass the time.