Inside Low Newton: the high security prison that will house Lucy Letby | Lucy Letby

The high-security prison where Lucy Letby will spend the rest of her life also houses some of Britain’s most high-profile criminals.

Letby, 33, is reportedly being sent to HMP Low Newton in Durham to serve the whole-life order that she received on Monday for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others.

Low Newton holds women from 18 years old upwards and includes those serving short sentences and also high security (restricted status) women. It houses Joanna Dennehy, who became the first woman to receive a whole-life order at sentencing after she murdered three men during a 10-day spree in 2013.

An exterior view of Low Newton prison. Photograph: HMI Prisons

Dennehy’s sentencing judge revealed she had told a psychiatrist that she killed “to see if I was as cold as I thought I was. Then it got moreish and I got a taste for it.”

Other former inmates of Low Newton included Rose West, who was convicted of 10 murders, carried out with her husband Fred, at Winchester crown court in 1995.

It also housed Tracey Connelly, the mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse in 2007, and also Sharon Carr, who became known as “The Devil’s Daughter” when she murdered an 18-year-old stranger.

A general population prison cell at Low Newton. Photograph: HMI Prisons

As of April last year, there were 242 prisoners at the facility, which has been declared a safe environment by the Independent Monitoring Boards.

Levels of self-harm and violence are “relatively low” at the institution and there were no deaths in custody at Low Newton in the reporting year 2021-22.

The prison has seven wings plus a healthcare unit. Prisoners and staff “take great pride in cleaning these areas and keeping the prison tidy”, the IMB report said.

Women at Low Newton have the option of shopping at the prison shop, Rags to Riches, which the IMB said “is popular with the women”.

The prison has organised animal visits and has brought goats and sheep into the establishment alongside having a residential rabbit and two birds, the IMB report added.

“Prisoners have had access to these animals, often with the most challenging of prisoners giving good results in feedback surveys, which have shown that this initiative has had a calming effect,” the report stated.

Inmates of Low Newton created a play exploring the troubled lives of female prisoners, which made its national debut at the Edinburgh festival fringe in 2015.


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