Incentives and earned privileges

Each prison has an Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme. This is usually shortened to ‘IEP’.

Prison staff will tell you which IEP level you are on and if it changes. Your IEP level will say if there are extra things you can get or do.

What is my IEP level based on?

Your IEP level depends on whether you:

  • keep to the rules
  • take part in work and other activities
  • show a commitment to your rehabilitation
  • help other prisoners or staff

What privileges can I earn?

For example, if you follow the rules and do good things for yourself in prison you may be able to do things like:

  •  spend more of your money
  • get more visits from your family and friends
  • earn more money
  • have a TV in your cell
  • wear your own clothes
  • spend more time outside of your cell.

You can also have these things taken away from you if you do not follow the rules.

The extra things you can have or do are different in each prison.

What are the different IEP levels?

There are currently four IEP levels. The following is a general guide as to what they mean - there is more detail about the criteria for each IEP level in PSI 30/2013.

Entry Level

If you are new to prison, have recently been convicted, or have recently been recalled you will be put on ‘Entry’ level. After 14 days this will be reviewed and you will be progressed to ‘Standard’ level if you have met the criteria, or put on ‘Basic’ level if you have not.

Basic level

If prison staff do not think you have met the criteria for ‘Standard’ level or think your behavior has been poor, they may put you on ‘Basic’ level.

If you are on ‘Basic’ level it means you can only have certain things that the law says you must have, like some letters and visits. You will not be allowed anything extra.

Standard level

If you successfully complete ‘Entry’ level by taking part in prison activities, showing a commitment to your rehabilitation and behaving well, you will be put on ‘Standard’ level.

This means you may be allowed more visits and letters. You may be allowed to have a TV in your cell and to spend more of your money.

Enhanced level

If you can show that you are committed to your rehabilitation, take part in work and other activities, and follow prison rules for at least 3 months, you may be considered for ‘Enhanced’ level.

You also need to show that, where possible, you have helped other prisoners or staff. For example, by being a Listener or mentor to others.

If you are ‘Enhanced’ it means you can have even more extra things. For example, you may be allowed to wear your own clothes, have more visits, a TV in your cell, or to spend more of your money.

Will my IEP level change if I am transferred?

If you are transferred to another prison you should keep the IEP level that you had before. However, the IEP scheme at the receiving prison may differ in some ways which could affect your IEP level at a later review.

What is an IEP warning?

If prison staff think you have behaved badly they may give you an ‘IEP warning’.

If you get an IEP warning, prison staff must decide how long it stands for. This should not be more than 12 months.

If you get another IEP warning in this time prison staff will review your IEP level. This means they could change it to a lower level.

How often should my IEP level be reviewed?

If you are on Entry level this should be reviewed after 14 days.

If you are on Basic level this should be reviewed after the first 7 days and then at least every 28 days after that.

If you are on Standard level you can apply for Enhanced after 3 months. If you do not get it, you can apply again every 3 months. Otherwise, your IEP level should be reviewed once per year.

If you are on Enhanced level this should be reviewed once per year.

Your IEP level can also be reviewed if you receive two IEP warning or something serious happens and the prison thinks your IEP level may need to change.

Can I have my IEP level reduced as well as be given an adjudication?

The IEP scheme is not part of the disciplinary system and so is separate to the adjudications process.

If the prison thinks there is good reason to, they can decide to give you an adjudication as well as review your IEP level.

If you have been put on basic for an incident that you are later found innocent of at adjudication, you may want to appeal your IEP level, as below.

Can I appeal my IEP level?

Decisions about your IEP level should be ‘open, fair and consistent’

If you think you have been given an IEP level or IEP warning unfairly, you can make a complaint using the internal complaints process. There is more information on how to do this in our information sheet ‘Making a complaint in prison and PSI 02/2012 Prisoner Complaints.

Further information

Useful PSIs and PSOs (these should be available in the library):

PSI 30/2013 Incentives and Earned Privileges

PSI 02/2012 Prisoner Complaints


PRT Information sheets

Making a complaint in prison

Property in prison

Money in prison



PAS information sheet on ‘Incentives and Earned Privilege Scheme (IEPS)

For a print-ready version of this information, click here.