Strangeways Unlocked

Neil Samworth

31 March 2022
288 pages


A darkly funny, harrowing and heartbreaking look at the reality of prison life, with first-hand accounts from men who found themselves on the wrong side of the cell doors. Including a preface powerfully read by the author, Neil Samworth.

Neil ‘Sam’ Samworth spent eleven years as a prison officer at HMP Manchester, better known as Strangeways. He has seen it all: from notorious criminals, dangerous gangsters and repeat offenders to those who simply made the wrong decisions. In this shocking page-turner, he tracks down former prisoners and staff, and uncovers the inside story of what life is really like in one of the UK’s most infamous high-security prisons.

We’ll see a prisoner whose unwanted feud with an inmate ends in a fight and the loss of his eye, another who is convicted for theft but leaves addicted to spice, and many who become victims of the IPP system where they find themselves serving indefinite sentences for petty crimes. We’ll see the dark underworld of the prison system, where riots can occur at any time, where the worlds of gangbangers suddenly collide, where class A drugs and contrabands roam. On the other side, we’ll see staff grappling with a failing prison system, while dealing with an inmate who records the highest ever psychopath rating and caring fully for men with mental health issues.

In brutally raw and gripping detail, Strangeways Unlocked gives voice to the people behind the bars and exposes a prison system that is failing them, providing an unforgettable account of a life that many can only imagine.

Neil Samworth’s story is authentic, tough, horrifying in some places and hilarious in others. It captivates the reader because the author’s honesty and decency shine through as he tells it like it is on the daily roller coaster ride of prison life in Strangeways. An enthralling, exciting but disturbing book