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Where is the TV Show Prisoners Set?

Prisoners is a popular British television drama series that gives viewers a look into the criminal justice system. The gritty show depicts the experiences of prisoners and staff within an adult male prison facility called HMP Stone Park. But while the program aims for realism, the actual setting is fictional.

About the Fictional HMP Stone Park Prison

HMP Stone Park exists solely in the fictional world of the TV series. Key details include:

  • Location – The exact location of Stone Park prison is never specified, but it is presumably somewhere in England.
  • History – The facility is depicted as an aging Victorian-era prison structure predating modern design standards.
  • Type – Stone Park houses adult male prisoners from ages 18 into elderly. It holds both remand and sentenced inmates.
  • Population – Hundreds of prisoners are shown as residents of Stone Park, although the exact number is unclear. Cells, common areas, and factories appear overcrowded.
  • Mix – Inmates include those convicted for petty crimes up to serious violence, gang leaders, white collar criminals, and prisoners with mental illnesses.
  • Conditions – The prison is portrayed as underfunded and grimy. Cells are cramped and communal areas dilapidated. Opportunities for rehabilitation are limited.
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While never pinpointed on a map, the fictional Stone Park prison provides a backdrop for drama.

Filming Locations for Prison Scenes

Despite HMP Stone Park not being real, the Prisoners show used actual prison settings for filming:

  • HM Prison Leeds – Many internal scenes were filmed within this working facility in West Yorkshire before it closed in 2013. The cast and crew had access to empty cell blocks, wings, recreational areas and more to achieve an authentic feel.
  • HM Prison Oxford – External shots of the prison’s old imposing facade were filmed on location at the now closed HM Prison Oxford. Its 19th century architecture mirrors the grim Victorian design of fictional Stone Park.
  • Northern Film Studios – Several jail interiors were constructed on sound stages at this production studio in Manchester. This allowed flexibility for scenes requiring custom sets.

So while Stone Park itself is imaginary, viewers experience realistic prison environments captured on camera.

Benefits of a Fictional Setting

Constructing a fictional facility for the show provided creative advantages:

  • Freedom to intermingle inmates and staff from different eras and prison systems into one contained world
  • Flexibility to heighten drama without adhering to strict realism
  • Ability to composite many real issues like overcrowding, understaffing, gang violence into a single representation
  • Insulation from criticism for misrepresenting specific existing institutions
  • Avoidance of privacy issues that naming actual prisoners or staff might raise

The fictional setting condensed pressing national realities into an accessible narrative.

Real-Life Prison Controversies Depicted

Despite its fabricated setting, the show tackled many authentic controversies in the criminal justice system:

  • Debates over sentencing policies and rehabilitation vs punishment philosophies
  • Mental health crises among inmates, self-harm, and lack of treatment access
  • Struggles for adequate prison staffing levels and retention
  • Tensions between pragmatic officers and draconian management
  • Corruption, smuggling, violence, and the underground prison economy
  • Post-release struggles with probation, parole, housing, jobs, andsocial stigma
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The gritty dramatization illuminated the human impacts of these issues.

Audience Reception and Reviews

Response to the show’s no holds barred approach proved somewhat mixed:


  • Praised by some ex-inmates and prison reform advocates for raising awareness of institutional problems
  • Acting and production values lauded as superb, creating an immersive experience
  • Show highlighted systemic failures driving recidivism rather than just individual criminals


  • Criticized by some as gratuitously dark, portraying prisoners in stereotypically brutal ways
  • Accused of excusing criminal conduct by evoking too much sympathy
  • Objected to “glamorizing” prison life and dwelling on violence

But overall, the show achieved its aims to spark discussion on urgently needed reforms.

Impact of Fictionalized Prison Settings

While real-life cases inform plots, the fictional stage of HMP Stone Park affords creative license to:

  • Capture diverse characters and scenarios through composite representations
  • Spotlight particular conditions and controversies in a microcosm setting
  • Amplify urgency around addressing systemic gaps and failings

The creators hoped raising awareness could help yield positive change.


Through gritty fictional drama grounded in reality, Prisoners explores the harsh truths of life behind bars for both inmates and officers. Filmed on location within real prisons but set in the imagined HMP Stone Park, the show offers insight into the modern British carceral system. Its blend of fact and fiction provides an impactful view into the criminal justice system’s shortcomings. The program’s ultimate goal is spurring reform.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has there ever been a real HMP Stone Park prison?

No, HMP Stone Park exists only in the fictional world of the TV series. It is an imagined composite facility blending details from many real UK prisons.

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Where can I visit the Prisoners film set?

You can’t actually visit HMP Stone Park itself, since it is not real. But you can take tours of now closed prisons used for filming certain scenes, like HM Prison Oxford.

Do prisoners really live in conditions like those shown?

The show takes some creative license for drama, but it captures many authentic issues faced in real UK prisons around overcrowding, violence, understaffing, and decrepit facilities.

Why create a fictional prison for the show instead of profiling a real one?

A fictional setting gave the show more creative freedom while still raising awareness of problems plaguing the wider prison system. It avoids privacy issues that using a real prison would raise.

Does the Prisoners prison resemble old Victorian-era facilities?

Yes, the fictional Stone Park is depicted as an aging, poorly maintained Victorian structure, much like some real UK prisons still in operation today despite their outdated design. This creates an oppressive, gloomy backdrop.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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