Verne Prison information

The Verne

The Verne Prison opened in 1949 on the site of a former military barracks dating from the end of the nineteenth century. The prison, which sits high above the harbour on the Isle of Portland off the Dorset coast, is a Cat C Training Prison for adult males. The population consists of life sentence prisoners and determinate sentenced prisoners, many serving four years or over. About sixty per cent of the prisoners are foreign nationals; over fifty different nationalities represented.

In 1847 a start was made on temporary prison buildings known as The Verne Citadel for prisoners building the Prison Breakwater. The first sixty-four prisoners were landed on 24 November 1848 at Castletown from HM Steamer Driver. The Verne Citadel was designated by Captain W Crossman of the Royal Engineers and enclosed an area of fifty-six acres. A full workforce of one hundred and eighty prisoners laid three million convict-made bricks in two years.


Tel: 01305 825000
Fax: 01305 825001

Governor: David Ward

Accommodation: Three accommodation blocks built 1970 and nine dormitories (D Wing). Each accommodation block divided into two, giving a total of six separate wings (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) each with eighty rooms on their second and third floors. Ground floor used as association, dining and office areas. All prisoners have keys to their rooms, and access to twenty-four hour sanitation facilities. The dormitory accommodation is contained in casements which make up D wing which operates the Kainos Programme. The dormitories have been divided into eight cubicles with an association area in each one, this provides accommodation for 72 men.

Operational capacity: 595 as of 15th May 2009

Reception criteria:

  • Must be 25 years of age or over
  • Must have at least 9 months left to serve
  • Progressive life sentence moves only
  • Must have no history of escape or attempted escape
  • Must have no history of racism
  • Must have no significant history of prison drug trafficking or dealing
  • If sex offender, must have completed SOTP
  • Must not require intensive psychiatric intervention
  • Must not require methadone detoxification
  • Must not be assessed as “high risk” on cell-sharing risk assessment.
HM Prison Service


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