Benjamin Mendy’s grim vermin-infested stay in Britain’s roughest prison Strangeways

Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy has been moved to a notorious prison, which made national news in 1990 for a huge riot that lasted almost a month. Here’s everything you need to know about HM Prison Manchester, known as Strangeways

Benjamin Mendy was categorised as a vulnerable prisoner at Liverpool's HMP Altcourse
Benjamin Mendy was categorised as a vulnerable prisoner at Liverpool’s HMP Altcourse and has been moved to notorious jail Strangeways

Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy has been moved from HMP Altcourse in Liverpool to a new prison in Manchester.

The move has allegedly been made due to safety concerns. He has been moved alongside 40-year-old co-defendant, Louis Saha Matturie.

Mendy is charged with seven counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. The rape charges relate to four different women, while the sexual assault charge is linked to a fifth woman.

But the move may not be overly welcomed by the pair, who left their category-B accommodation at HMP Altcourse for a notoriously tough alternative prison.

Where has Benjamin Mendy been moved to?

H.M. Prison Manchester, commonly known as Strangeways

Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy has been moved to HM Manchester Prison, also eerily known as Strangeways.

Strangeways was once its official name, but this changed after the prison had to be rebuilt following the 1990 Strangeways Prison Riot. It lasted 25 days, claiming two lives and injuring 47 inmates and 147 officers.

Shocking images of prisoners perched on the roof rocked the country as they were put under siege by law enforcement.

A documentary called Strangeways: Britain’s Toughest Prison Riot has since been made featuring interviews with rioters and staff.

The prison was home to one of the UK’s execution chambers before capital punishment was abolished in 1964.

Over the years it has seen high-profile inmates come and go, including the likes of Moors Murder Ian Brady, serial killer Dr Harold Shipman and serial rapist Reynhard Sinaga.

Suffragettes Emily Davison, Christabel Pankhurst and Catherine and Helen Tolson were all also kept there at various points.

Other famous faces that were imprisoned at HM Prison Manchester include ex-footballer Joey Barton and Antiques Roadshow host David Dickinson.

In 2018, the prison made headlines again following the passing of inmate Kieron Simpson, whose death prompted an independent investigation from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, before an inquest at Manchester Coroners Court was opened.

In January, 2019, inmate Alan Doward was found dead in his cell, where an inquest subsequently heard he took his own life.

Why is Strangeways so tough?

The prison was the scene of the notorious 1990 Strangeways Prison Riot


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In 2017 the Independent Monitoring Board described conditions inside HM Manchester Prison as squalid. It said it was reminiscent of Dickensian England, drawing attention to the number of vermin found.

The 2020 to 2021 report found that it had 683 prisoners living across 646 single cells and 49 double cells. It highlighted some of the key data and findings about life inside Strangeways, some of the key points are discussed below.

Prisoner welfare

The Independent Monitoring Report pointed out how Covid had greatly affected inmate activity, leading to prisoners spending long periods inside their cells.

It also raised concerns about the security prisoners’ property, alluding to theft, while the vermin issue was reported to still be ongoing.

Two prisoners were also reported to have been in the segregation unit for 12 months.


The report found 172 cases of drugs being smuggled into the prison, and increases in the number of illegal packages being thrown over the perimeter walls.


The high-security prison is known for being particularly tough



The report did also note that its population decreased on the previous year, along with its rates of violence in the prison.

However, in the year the report focused on, it still saw 56 assaults of prisoners on staff, 18 of which were serious, a small increase on the previous year.

There were also 49 incidents of prisoner-on-prisoner assault, although this was a decrease on the previous year.

The prison staff had 44 events with a planned use of force, and 287 unplanned. Yet, the report noted: “The use of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) are not deployed as regularly as might be expected.”

It added that: “Between January to March 2021 there were a total of 71 spontaneous incidents during which BWCs were activated only 15 times.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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