Coordinates: 52°37′38.72″N 1°7′54.92″W / 52.6274222°N 1.1319222°W / 52.6274222; -1.1319222

HM Prison Leicester is a local men's prison, located in the Southfields area of Leicester, Leicestershire, England. The term 'local' means that the prison holds people on remand to the local courts, as well as sentenced prisoners. Leicester Prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service, and is situated immediately north of Nelson Mandela Park (formerly Welford Road Recreation Ground), a sign in which quotes Nelson Mandela: "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere".


The prison was designed by William Parsons to resemble a castle. The oldest part dates from 1825, and it was opened in 1828. The gatehouse including the adjoining building to north and south and the perimeter wall are grade II listed.

Between 1900 and 1953, eight executions took place at the prison. The last was that of John Reynolds, convicted of murder at Leicester Assizes, and hanged on November 17 1953.

In 2001 Leicester hit headlines as a 'failing prison' and David Ramsbotham, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, declared that it should be shut down.

In 2004 the Prison Reform Trust described Leicester as one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, and suggested that its true design capacity was around 200.

In November 2006 an inspection report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised Leicester Prison after nine inmates died there in a 28-month period. Continued overcrowding and poor health at the prison were also highlighted.

The prison today

Leicester is a local prison for adult males, sentenced and on remand from the local courts. The main living accommodation is a long rectangular cell block with four landings, with full integral sanitation and in cell electricity.

Employment for inmates at the prison centres around Education, Kitchen, Domestic Cleaners, and the Greening Party. Education at Leicester Prison is provided by Milton Keynes College, and is mainly focused on vocational and foundation subjects. The prison also has a library provision, gym and chaplaincy covering a variety of faiths.

Notable former inmates
  • Brian Keenan Irish Republican
  • Mark Morrison
  • Ricky Tomlinson