Female prison staff from HMP Long Lartin reveal what it’s like to work with the UK’s most dangerous inmates – from learning to put judgment aside to not Googling their crimes

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A new documentary has shed light on what it’s like to be a woman working in one of Britain’s most violent prisons. 

Channel 5’s new documentary Inside HMP Long Lartin: Evil Behind Bars, which airs tonight, goes inside the dispersal prison in South Littleton Worcestershire, which hosts some of the country’s most dangerous criminals. 

Prison psychologist Dr Jacqueline Blyth and general nurse Kerry Collins, who worked at the prison for several years, have revealed the ‘unnerving’ reality of dealing with category A inmates within the prison’s walls.

Both women admitted to being scared for their well-being and feeling ‘vulnerable’ while on duty at the prison.  

In the 9pm show, Kerry also recounted coming face-to-face with violent serial killer Stephen Wright, who is currently serving a life sentence after murdering five sex workers during a killing spree in 2006. 

Channel 5’s new documentary Inside HMP Long Lartin: Evil Behind Bars, which airs tonight, explores the insides of the dispersal prison in South Littleton Worcestershire, which hosts some of the country’s most dangerous criminals

Dr Jacqueline Blyth, who worked at HMP Long Lartin in 2001, said she only dealt  with prisoners serving life sentences, which included ‘murderers, rapists and terrorists’. 

Remembering the first time she was taken to meet a prisoner, the officer leading the way told her: ‘Now you’re going to have to decide whether you’re going to sit near the alarm, or near the door, because it could take somebody just a couple of seconds to get their hands around your throat.’

Dr Jacqueline recalled thinking: ‘Oh my god, what kind of men are in here?’

During her time working at the prison, Dr Jacqueline came face-to-face with serial killer Colin Ireland, who killed five gay men in 1993 and was sentenced to life in prison until his death in 2012. 

Dr Jacqueline revealed she was instructed to read everything written about the Long Lartin inmates, and to go through their files, which included graphic photographs not accessible to the wider public.  

Dr Jacqueline admitted that her readings sometimes made her feel like she didn’t want to meet the men behind the crimes.  

In 2001, she met Ireland, and was tasked to determine whether he was fit for parole.  

Prison Psychologist Dr Jacqueline Blyth recounted feeling nervous and anxious for the first three months of her time working at HMP Long Lartin

‘I usually start from the point of empathy, trying to understand these defenders,’ she explained. 

‘What I found difficult is if their crimes contained an element of cruelty. Torture I found quite difficult,’ she added. 

She felt Ireland’s crime were ‘horrendous,’ and being in the same room as him made her feel ‘nervous,’ she admitted in the programme.  

She said she was also unnerved by the fact she often had to be alone in a room with criminals as part of her job.  

‘Seeing a psychologist is always confidential. Prison officers might be standing outside by the door, but there is nobody in the room with you,’ she explained. 

She recounted that Ireland had a ‘psychopathic stare,’ when she spoke to him,which led her to recommend him unfit for parole.  

‘You just assumed, as soon as he gets out on parole, he’s gonna carry on where he left off,’ she said. 

The Worcestershire is home to some of the country’s most dangerous criminals and is intimidating for members of staff 

‘And I knew then that he was never going to get out,’ she added. 

Ireland eventually died in Wakefield in 2012, age 57. 

Meanwhile, nurse Kerry Collins recounted the intimidating atmosphere in the prison. 

One of her first jobs was to tend to a prisoner who had been stabbed in a face with a sharp makeshift weapon that pierced through his chin. 

‘Society tells you this person is a heinous human being, committed his horrible crime, and now we want you to look after them, be kind to them, it’s difficult,’ she admitted. 

‘It could be scary, I knew that I was going to be working with dangerous people.’

Serial killer Steve Wright is still serving a life sentence at Long Lartin for killing five prostitutes in 2006 

‘Prisoners may have had no contact with a woman, in five, 10, 15 years,’ she added. ‘If you’re new, you’re fresh meat. They make comments to you, whistle at you. It’s unnerving, you don’t want unwanted attention from people who you know are dangerous.’

Meanwhile, Dr Jacqueline admitted she was on edge after starting the job at Long Lartin.  

‘I was very anxious and for the first three months, really quite scared,’ she said. 

‘I had nightmare, I was quite afraid of being in Long Lartin,

However, once she settled in her new environment, things got easier for the psychologist.  

Colin Ireland frightened Dr Jacqueline with his ‘psychopathic stare’ when she met him at HMP Long Lartin in 2001

‘I wasn’t under threat, I felt there was honour among thieves. If I was down on a wing, if somebody was swearing at somebody else, they would say, “Don’t talk like that in front of the doctor.

‘They were being respectful around me,’ she recounted. 

Kerry recounted that the staff were discouraged from googling the prisoners they were looking after. 

However, she revealed that some staff will look up the inmates and feel they have ‘a right to know what risk they pose to us as individuals.’

Kerry also recounted how she came face-to-face with one of Britain’s most vicious serial killers in 2007. 

Stephen Wright, dubbed the Suffolk Strangler in 2006, was sentenced to life and is serving his sentenced at Long Lartin. 

‘I met Steve Wright when he arrived and came to the healthcare wing for us to do our initial assessment of him, monitor all his tar rate, blood pressure, all that,’ Kerry recounted. 

‘I was surprised because he looked very normal middle-aged guy, unassuming, it could be someone’s dad, could be someone’s granddad,’ she said. 

‘Just someone that you would walk past in the street and you wouldn’t think, “Man, he looks like a serial killer”.

‘Obviously being a female member of staff, you feel vulnerable in that person’s company. 

‘It’s nerve wracking, but you are not there to judge that person, you have to maintain professionalism,’ she said. 

Inside HMP Long Lartin: Evil Behind Bars airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 5  

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