Prison category structure

Working within the prison sector can be incredibly rewarding, but the landscape is full of acronyms, abbreviations and jargon.

Male prisons in England and Wales are categorised according to security from A (high security) to D (open). The following definitions are from the Prison Reform Trust:

Category A This is where prison staff think you will harm someone outside prison and/or you might try to escape so everything possible will be done to stop you escaping
Category B This is where prison staff think you should have no chance of escaping
Category D This is where prison staff think they can trust you to be in an open prison

 

Young Offenders have a slightly different categorisation:

Category A This is where prison staff think you will harm someone and that everything possible must be done to stop you escaping from the young offender institution
Restricted Status This is where prison staff think you should be kept in a safe part of the young offender institution
Closed Conditions This is where staff think you are less of a risk but still not safe to be in an open young offender institution
Open Conditions This is where staff think they can trust you enough to be in an open young offender institution

 

Local Prisons

Offenders start their sentence at a local prison or Young Offender Institution which will be local to the court. The offender will be given a security category, which determines their next prison. Local prisons are all closed prisons.

For prisoners the categorisation under which they fall is reviewed as follows:

  • Where the sentence is between 1 year and 4 years, security category is reviewed every 6 months.
  • Where the sentence is more than 4 years, security category is reviewed every year.

Training prisons

Training prisons can be open or closed prisons. Offenders can go on courses and training although they may face a lengthy wait for a place on a course.

Young offender institutions

Are for young people aged 15 to 21 who have committed an offence.

High Security Prisons

These are for prisoners who have been given a category A or B security category.

Prisons run by private companies (aka Contracted Prisons)

These prisons are run by private companies. Prisoners follow the same rules and have the same rights as prisoners in other prisons although titles for the staff may vary (e.g. prison director rather than governor)