The citadel, on which HMP The Verne is built, was designed by Captain William Crossman R.E. and built by convicts from the nearby Portland Prison between 1860 and 1872. The Verne was mainly used as an infantry training centre and housed the Royal Engineers until 1948. On 1 February 1949, The Verne was handed over to the Prison Commission. Since then, the interior of the citadel has been substantially rebuilt by prison labour and was developed to become a modern, medium security prison for 580 men, with a considerable training programme for medium- and long-term sentenced prisoners.
In September 2013, the Justice Secretary announced that HMP The Verne would change function to become an immigration removal centre. It served in this capacity for four years, until it was announced in October 2017 that it would return to the public-sector prison estate.
HMP The Verne reopened in 2018 as a male sex offender prison. It is a “semi open” prison whereby the inmates have access to the keys to their own cells, and are allowed out of their cells for the majority of the day. The prison has a secure wall/fence around the establishment. The prison hold up to 600 men. The #1governor is David Bourne, who has been in charge since July 2016
The residential structure consists of three standard residential buildings, a dormitory unit and a segregation unit.
Each residential building is divided into two units, giving a total of six separate residential units (named Arne, Abbotsbury, Bincombe, Blandford, Corfe and Chesil), each with 80 rooms spread across their second and third floors. New receptions are accommodated on Corfe while they undergo an induction programme. The ground floor of each residential unit consists of an association room, a dining area, office spaces and a communal foyer..
The dormitories’ (named Dorset unit) consists of 10 ground-floor dormitories and is largely used to house residents with mobility issues or other social care needs