What is segregation?

  • Segregation is when you are kept apart from other prisoners.
  • The governor decides if you should be put on segregation or not.
  • You may be kept in another part of the prison called the segregation unit or wing. You may be kept with other prisoners who are also on segregation.
  • You may not be able to work and may have to stay in your cell for longer than other prisoners.

Why would I be put on segregation?


Prison Rule 45 (YOI Rule 49) says there are two reasons why you may be put on segregation.


1.    Good Order or Discipline (GOOD)

This is if you behave in a way that prison staff think would put other people in danger or cause problems for the rest of the prison.


2.    For your own interests/own protection

If you or prison staff think you are in danger. For example, you may want to be kept apart from other prisoners if you think they will hurt you because of the type of offence you committed. For example, if you committed a sexual offence. Your lawyer or the police may have given you advice about this.


You should be told why you have been put on segregation in writing


Are there other reasons I could be put on segregation?


You can be put on segregation whilst waiting for an initial adjudication hearing if there is a need to stop you from talking to others involved. This is covered under Prison Rule 53(4)


You can also be put on segregation as a result of an adjudication – this is called cellular confinement. You cannot spend more than 21 days in cellular confinement. This is covered under Prison Rule 55(e) and 55 (h).


There is also more information in PSI 05/2018 Prisoner Discipline Procedures.


How long can I be put on segregation for?


A governor can put you on segregation for up to 72 hours at first.


After that a Segregation Review board decides if you should be segregated for longer. You can be put on segregation for up to 14 days before they must review it again. Then for up to 14 days each time after that.


If the prison think you should be kept on segregation for more than 42 days the secretary of state must approve the decision. In practice, this usually means Deputy Director of Custody will make the decision.


There is no limit on how long you can be on segregation as long as the prison has followed the correct way of doing it.

What does the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) do?

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) check prisons to make sure they are run in a good and fair way.


The IMB should be told you have been segregated within 24 hours. A member from the IMB should visit and check the segregation paperwork.


If a member of the IMB thinks there is a serious reason you should not be on segregation they should speak to a governor. They can also attend the Segregation Review Board.

What about my health when I am on segregation?


A doctor or nurse should complete a health screen within 2 hours of you being segregated. This is to check if there are any reasons why you should be removed from segregation because of physical or mental health needs. This should also happen if you are on segregation for more than four hours whilst waiting for an adjudication.


A doctor or nurse should visit you every day to check how you are. If they think there are health reasons which means you should be removed from segregation, they should advise the prison of this.


If you are on an open ACCT a member of the Safer Custody team should also be informed that you are on segregation and be involved in further decisions.


Help you can get while on segregation


These people visit the segregation unit every day

  • a prison officer
  • a doctor or nurse
  • a chaplain

These people also visit the segregation unit – but not every day

  • the governor
  • someone from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB)
  • Listeners

If you are worried about anything while on segregation, speak to a prison officer or the governor.

Regime on segregation

Visits, phone calls and showers


You should still have access to visits, phones and showers whilst on segregation.




There may be education or employment that you can do whilst on segregation.


Time in open air/exercise


As on normal location, you should get a minimum of 30 minutes in the open air daily, though this is subject to weather conditions and need to maintain good order and discipline.




PSI 02/2015 Prison Library Service says that if you are in segregation you should still be able to at least borrow and exchange materials from the library. You should be able to do this at least as often as if you were able to visit the library.



A member of the Chaplaincy Team must visit prisoners in the Segregation Unit and the Health Care Centre daily.

If you are on segregation unit you should still be allowed to attend the main religious worship or meditation of your registered faith for one hour per week.

However, you can be stopped from attending worship or meditation in ‘exceptional individual cases’. There is more information in PSI 05/2016 Faith and Pastoral care for Prisoners and in our information sheet ‘Faith in Prison’.

Further information

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

PSO 1700 Segregation, Special Accommodation and Body Belts

Prison Reform Trust Information sheets

Faith in Prison


Prisoners’ Advice Service Information Sheet - Segregation

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