About prison

 prison wing viewed from above 

On this page you will find chapters from the Prisoners' Information Book for Male Prisoners and Young Offenders which will tell you what you need to know about prison life.Click on a heading to download the relevant chapter or click on the audio link to listen to an audio version of that chapter.

Who works in prison?

Information on the different people who work in prison and what they do.

When you first arrive

Information about what will happen when someone first arrives in prison.

Unconvicted prisoners

Information for prisoners who are waiting to go to court for their trial.

Civil prisoners

Information for civil prisoners.

Immigration detainees

Information for people who are not originally from the United Kingdom and are being held in prison for breaking immigration rules or committing an offence and are now waiting to see if they will be sent back (deported) to the country they come from.

Appealing against your conviction or sentence

Information for people trying to change the decision about both their conviction and the sentence they were given.

Working out how long you will be in prison

This does not cover life or indeterminate sentence for public protection prisoners (IPP).

Things to sort out - outside prison

Information about children or other people someone looks after, benefits, paying rent or mortgage, council tax, bills like water, gas, electricity and telephone, National Insurance, state pension and income tax.

People who can help you in prison

Information about people in prison who can help with worries, if someone is being hurt, if someone has problems with drugs and/or alcohol and if there are general problems with the prison.

Keeping in touch with family and friends

Information about visits from family or friends, help with the cost of travel for visitors, letters, telephone calls and getting married or having a civil partnership.

Contact with your solicitor and other official people

Information about letters to and from solicitors, the courts or other official organisations, and visits and telephone calls from your solicitor or other official people. Information about contact with newspapers, TV, radio or magazines.

Prison life

General information about prison numbers, prison records, security categories, rules, the different types of prisons, belongings in prison, money, the prison shop (canteen), smoking, food, clothes, bedding, showers, fresh-air, incentives and earned privileges (IEPs).

Your health

Information about seeing a doctor, nurse, dentist or optician, medicine, health problems and illnesses, mental health needs, drug and alcohol problems and drug testing.

Your faith

Information about practicing a faith and the prison chaplain.

Prison rules

Information on prison rules and what happens if someone breaks a rule, including punishments, prison adjudications or hearings.

This also has information on how people in prison should be treated, including segregation, special accommodation and restraints, searching cells and belongings, searching a person in prison, bullying and violence, race equality and disabled prisoners.

How to make a complaint or a request

Information about asking for things or making complaints about different things. This includes sending a complaint to people outside the prison.

Offender management, sentence planning and getting ready for release

This is about how the time someone spends in prison or under supervision in the community is managed. This includes information about programmes, education, work and training, job clubs, and volunteering.

There is also information about getting ready to leave prison, including belongings, travel, discharge grants, housing, money and benefits, income tax, grants and loans, health and medication, release time, licence and supervision, and gate arrest.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, a law about criminal convictions that can be taken off your record after a period of time, and criminal records are explained here.

Release on Temporary Licence

Information on leaving a prison for a short time and the end of custody licence scheme (ECL).

Release and supervision

Information about release with or without supervision and how long that supervision goes on for. This includes home detention curfew (HDC), parole, recall or revocation of licence, the early removal scheme for foreign national prisoners, deportation and repatriation.

Foreign national prisoners

Information about the Early Removal Scheme for foreign national prisoners - a scheme that lets prisoners who are foreign nationals leave the UK before their sentence is finished.

Young offenders and young offender institutions

This section is about some of the ways in which young offender institutions are different to other prisons.