Picture galleries

Enter into the visual information by sharing photographers’ unique views on detention. These photographers show their commitment by offering us their portfolios.

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Cell windows of C wing. HMP Coldingley, Surrey was built in 1969 and is a Category C training prison. Coldingley is focused on the resettlement of prisoners and all prisoners must work a full working week within the prison. Its capacity is 390 prisoners. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The gates into the North wing of HMP Downview. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A female prison officer walking down a corridor of C wing at HMP Downview. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An 'Enhanced' prisoner reading a newspaper in his room on H wing at the Young Offenders Institution in Aylesbury, United Kingdom. Under the Incentives and Earned Privilege Scheme, prisoners in the U.K. can earn extra privileges for good behaviour such as wearing their own clothes, having televisions in their cells, and having more free time to socialise. They are often housed together in their own wing. There are three levels of earned privileges - Basic, Standard and Enhanced. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Plastic cups issued to prisoners and a picture of semi-nude women inside an 'enhanced' prsoners room on H wing at the Young Offenders Institution in Aylesbury, United Kingdom. Under the Incentives and Earned Privilege Scheme, prisoners in the U.K. can earn extra privileges for good behaviour such as wearing their own clothes, having televisions in their cells, and having more free time to socialise. They are often housed together in their own wing. There are three levels of earned privileges - Basic, Standard and Enhanced. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An 'Enhanced' prisoner writing a letter in his room on H wing at the Young Offenders Institution in Aylesbury, United Kingdom. Under the Incentives and Earned Privilege Scheme, prisoners in the U.K. can earn extra privileges for good behaviour such as wearing their own clothes, having televisions in their cells, and having more free time to socialise. They are often housed together in their own wing. There are three levels of earned privileges - Basic, Standard and Enhanced. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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For safety reasons prisoners are not allowed to keep their own razors in their cells so they are kept in a secure location where they can be checked in and out by prison guards. The Young Offenders Institution, Ayelsbury, United Kingdom. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A constant watch cell at the Young Offenders Institution, Aylesbury, United Kingdom. If a prisoner has been involved in a suicide incident, or is thought to be at risk of self harming, he is moved to this cell and will be monitored 24 hours a day by a prison officer sitting outside of the room. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Prisoners play pool and socialise during a recreation period on C wing at the Young Offenders Institution, Aylesbury, United Kingdom. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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UK - Cheshire - HMP Styal — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A young female prisoner writing a letter in her cell. HMP Styal. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A female prison officer walks through the communal area inside one of the residential wings. HMP Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Visitors queuing at the main gate. HMP Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire — ©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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A prisoner embraces one of his children at the start of a visit. HMP/YOI Portland, Dorset. — ©Andrew Aitchison/Prisonimage.org
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©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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A prisoner watches the sunset through the bars of his cell window at Coldingley prison. Surrey, United Kingdom. HMP Coldingley is a category C training prison and was built in 1969. Surrey, United Kingdom. Coldingley is focussed on the resettlement of prisoners, and all inmates must work a full working week, within the prison grounds. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Airline headphone sorting. Piece work. £5 per week. £6 if enhanced. plus £6 per 500. Each one is stripped, re-sponged, folded and bagged. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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Three prisoners working on computers and using the virtual campus in the education department at HMP Featherstone jail. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Prisoners working with the Open University course leader to select their course. Open University are working with prisoners in the education department at HMP Featherstone. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Prisoners leaving the education department after a day studying in the education department at HMP Featherstone. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Prisoners arrive at the prison education department also known as the adult learning centre at HMP Featherstone. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The sun shining on one of the inner perimater fences at HMP Featherstone. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The prison industrial laundry department. HMP Holme House is a large purpose built category B local prison for male adult prisoners, opened in 1992, who are either remanded in custody or convicted. It has capacity to hold 1212 prisoners. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The prison industrial laundry department has a contract with P&O ferries to clean all their sheets and towels. Prisoner morale is high in the laundry, they enjoy the work and keeping busy. HMP Holme House is a large purpose built category B local prison for male adult prisoners, opened in 1992, who are either remanded in custody or convicted. It has capacity to hold 1212 prisoners. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Collecting the weekly laundry in the communal room on A wing HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A poster of the pay scale the prisoners get for working at the printing workshop in Coldingley prison..HMP Coldingley, Surrey was built in 1969 and is a Category C training prison. Coldingley is focused on the resettlement of prisoners and all prisoners must work a full working week within the prison. Its capacity is 390 prisoners. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Prisoners walking in the grounds of the prison. HMP Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A sign on the wall in the grounds of the prison. HMP Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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©Andrew Aitchison
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89 year old Fred is one of the many OAP's (Old Age Pensioner) in prison. HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Inmates looking out the window of the workshop. HMP Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Inmates at HMP Liverpool will work during the day in workshops, or doing laundry and other such tasks. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Collecting the weekly laundry in the communal room on A wing HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey prison is located in Cambridgeshire, East of England and is a purpose build category C prison dedicated to reducing numbers of re-offenders, by providing education and qualification opportunities to prisoners. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Two prisoners doubling up in a single cell and reading, at the HMP & Young Offenders Institute 'Littlehey'. Littlehey prison is located in Cambridgeshire, East of England and is a purpose build category C prison dedicated to reducing numbers of re-offenders, by providing education and qualification opportunities to prisoners. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Elderly & disabled prisoners walking down 'A' wing of HMP & Young Offenders Institute 'Littlehey'. Littlehey prison is located in Cambridgeshire, East of England and is a purpose build category C prison dedicated to reducing numbers of re-offenders, by providing education and qualification opportunities to prisoners. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Young offenders play cards during lunch on K wing of the YOI. HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Young offenders hang outside their cells on K wing of the YOI. HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The post box and canteen sheet box on K wing of the YOI. HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The prisoner complaints box on K wing of the YOI. HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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The walkway between wings at HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Sorting rubbish in the recycling centre at HMP & YOI Littlehey. Littlehey is a purpose build category C prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Tools with shadows and tags at the Inside Out trust bicycle regeneration workshop. HMP Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An inmate working to recondition an old wheel chair in the Inside Out trust workshop. HMP Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Inmates at HMP Liverpool will work during the day in industrial workshops, or doing laundry and other such tasks. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An inmate working to recondition an old wheel chair in the Inside Out trust workshop. HMP Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Inmates at HMP Liverpool will work during the day in industrial workshops, or doing laundry and other such tasks. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Inmates working as a team to recondition old wheel chairs and bicycles in the Inside Out trust workshop. HMP Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Inmates at HMP Liverpool will work during the day in workshops, or doing laundry and other such tasks. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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Messages scrawled onto the plastic window of the constant watch cell, in the main building at YOI Aylesbury. Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom Prisoners are placed in the constant watch cell if there are any problems on the wing or they are are on suicide watch. The cell is next to the prisoner officer office and has a clear perspex door as well as the normal gate. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A young female prison officer checks the cells of each prisoner, making sure everything is in order. Every bar is checked for breaks. YOI Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A Prison tag on a released prisoner sometimes known as a Rolex. Electronic tags can be fitted to the wrist or ankle, they allow a constant watch to be kept, making sure that former inmates do not even step outside their front door during curfew hours. If the prisoner breaks their curfew, the electronic tag will alert the contractors and the prisoner may be recalled to prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An ex-prisoner leaving HMP Pentonville with his posessions in a prison issue holdall and a black plastic binbag. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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A female prisoner just released from custody at HMP Downview. — ©Andrew Aitchison
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An ex-prisoner leaving HMP Pentonville with his posessions in a prison issue holdall and a black plastic binbag. Waiting at the bus stop directly outside the prison. — ©Andrew Aitchison
Find in
156

As a documentary photographer, I am used to being impartial and telling an unbiased story but I found negotiating my visits to prisons especially challenging.   
I have photographed officers, governors, prisoners and their families. It is important that I am able to connect with all these different groups (who often have strong opinions about the other!) and that they view me as trustworthy and neutral so they can relax and be natural around me. I think this is especially tricky in prison situations where most people seem to have their 'guard up', but I find it extremely rewarding to be able to break through this.    
I enjoy working in prisons because, unlike in the outside world, most people are not in a rush and have time to spend talking with me. This enables me to create an image that reflects their true personality.    
   
While everyone's story is different, there are often are reoccurring themes relating to poverty, inequalities and abuse. The more time I have spent in prisons, hearing these stories, the more passionate I have become about showing the outside world what life is really like within the closed world of the prison system in a truthful and unglamorous way.    
   
I find it ironic that despite the prison system being state funded, there is very little public awareness of what the system is really like and thats partly because there is a lack of honest dialogue in the outside world.   
   
Andrew Aitchison

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Andrew Aitchison

Photograph

Documentary photographer Andrew Aitchison has been working in the UK prison sector for over 10 years and has visited over 20 British prisons working with the UK's leading criminal justice organisations. Recently he's been working closely with staff and prisoners, focussing on family relations and the reality of life behind bars and those affected most.

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