Year2021

Special populations

Number and percentage of female prisoners

4.4 % (3,688)
i

Percentage of untried female prisoners

12.5 % (471)
i

Percentage of foreign female prisoners

10 %

i
06/2018

There are 12 prisons for women in England. Ten of these facilities are public and two are private. There are no prisons for women in Wales.

Public Prisons include:

  • Askham Grange Prison (open facility)
  • Drake Hall Prison
  • East Sutton Park Prison (open facility)
  • Eastwood Park Prison
  • Foston Hall Prison
  • Holloway Prison
  • Low Newton Prison
  • New Hall Prison
  • Send Prison
  • Styal Prison.

Private prisons include (operated by Sodexo):

  • Bronzefield Prison
  • Peterborough Prison

Women are often detained far from their homes and families.

[^ female]: Women in Prison, *State of the Estate: Women in Prison’s report on the women’s custodial estate * (report by the association Women in Prison), 2015, p. 34-36.

  • The Ministry of Justice announced that a special support centre for females with minor offences will open in Wales in 2021. The creation of such a centre is part of a strategy to send fewer women to prison. The Ministry sees this alternative to prison as a way to maintain family ties and to further rehabilitation.

    i
    05/05/2021
    / The Guardian

There is an effective separation between men and women

yes

Untried female prisoners are separated from the convicted

no

The prison staff is

mostly female

The chief inspector of English prisons recommends that 60% of prison staff should be women. However, not all facilities comply with this.

Searches of prisoners are defined by the PSI 07/2016.

  • Rub-down searches are the most common method. Single officers, male or female, implement these searches. These searches must not be intrusive or require the lifting or removal of clothes.
  • An officer of the same sex as the prisoner carries out full body searches. The officer uses a metal detector. These searches consist of two levels:
    • Level 1: The removal of clothing, excluding underwear.
    • Level 2: The entire removal of clothing. This step can only be justified on the grounds of sufficient information or suspicion of the concealment of objects. It is strictly forbidden to require the prisoner to squat whilst being searched. Intimate searches are carried out in private.1

Many gender-specific needs of women are not taken into account in the prison administration. However others are: such as gynaecological consultations and the provision of hygiene products.

Support given for women who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence is not adequate.1

  • Issues of mental health and self-harm have shown a 24% rise in acts of self-harm among female prisoners. The increase is due mainly to the suspension of visits because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is leaving women isolated and unable to see their children.

    i
    26/04/2021
    / Big Issue North

Women generally have access to employment and education. They can also take part in activities. However, female prisoners who are serving short sentences have little access to these opportunities. It can take a considerable amount of time to apply for work or training courses. The vast majority of women serve short sentences, sometimes lasting only a few days or weeks.

Conjugal visits are allowed for women

no

Conjugal visits are not allowed for both men and women.

Pregnant women are housed in specific units or cells

yes

Pregnant women, or those who have a child no older than 18 months mayask, in writing, to be placed in a Mother-Baby Unit (MBU)1. This decision falls on the prison governor who is thus advised by the Admission Board. If there is insufficient space, a potential transfer of a prisoner to the MBU of another establishment is possible.

The legislation provides for a sentence adjustment for pregnant women or women with young children

no

Children whose mothers are serving a sentence longer than 18 months are accommodated by close family or in a foster home.

Pregnant women receive proper prenatal care

yes

The NHS (National Health Service) is required to provide the same level of prenatal care to prisoners as it does to the public. According to Jenny North, of the Maternity Alliance, “Antenatal clinics and classes may be held on site in prisons, but more complex care - such as obstetric consultations and ultrasound scans - is usually delivered outside the prison.” 1

Childbirth takes place in

external care facilities

Security staff is prohibited from entering the room during labour and childbirth

yes

Two officers escort women prisoners to hospital. They must then respect protocol as defined by the National Security Framework from 2015. “Escort staff will not be present in the delivery room, or in a room where intimate examinations are conducted, unless the prisoner requests it”. At least one of the security escorts must be a woman.

The use of instruments of restraint is forbidden during labour and childbirth

no

Mothers are allowed to keep their children with them

yes, until they are 18 months old.

Accommodation for children with their mothers is provided in the six MBUs (Mother and Baby Units) below:

  • Bronzefield prison (12 places)
  • Eastwood Park prison (12 places)
  • Styal prison (12 places)
  • New Hall prison (10 places)
  • Peterborough prison (12 places)
  • Askham Grange prison (10 places).

The PSI 49/2014 states that MBUs must allow “the serene and healthy development of the child”. A cooking plan is available to mothers to prepare meals.[^Cook]

Security staff of Mother-Baby Units are made up specifically of trained childcare workers and supervisors. They are registered with Ofsted. Supervisors wear uniforms. 1


  1. Prisoner’s Advice Service, “Mother and Baby Units (MBUs): Self help toolkit)”, 2017, p.3. 

The secretary of state is responsible for providing “everything necessary for the baby’s maintenance and care”. (Prison rule No. 12).

The facility establishes a specific management plan within four weeks of admission to the unit. Essential equipment is also provided (a bed for the child etc.). The mother may receive family benefits. She must use these benefits for the needs of the child. The facility is required to encourage the child’s relationship with the outside world (Outings etc.) as well as helping to maintain family links. If released on temporary license (ROTL), members of staff or the mother accompanies the child outside of prison.

The law bans the imprisonment of minors

no

Minimum age of juvenile incarceration

10 years

Incarcerated minors

0.7 % (614)
i

Variation in the number of incarcerated minors

a decrease of 3 %

There were 866 minors incarcerated as of 31 December 2017.

Ministry in charge of juvenile offenders

the Youth Justice Board

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is a non-ministerial executive body.

In England and Wales minors are subject to a specific justice system. The YJB oversee the handling of cases involving minors. Offences committed by minors aged 10 to 17 are judged by a juvenile court.

The sanctions provided by the law for minors are as follows:

  • A reparation order: usually issued for the “least serious offences”. The reparation must be completed within three months.
  • A referral order: issued to minors who plead guilty. The offender is brought before a Youth Offender Panel and is accompanied by a parent. A rehabilitative and restorative contract lasting between three to twelve months is agreed.
  • A rehabilitation order with intensive supervision: the offender is kept on probation for up to three years.
  • An intensive supervision and surveillance issue: an intensive program geared towards reintegration to society. Minors are kept under tight supervision. They are subject to a curfew, controlled by an electronic tag.
  • A detention and training order: a prison sentence applicable to minors aged between 12 to 17 years. It may last between 4 and 24 months. The first half of the sentence isserved in a secure environment. The body responsible for young offenders (Youth Offending Team, YOT) supervises the second half of the sentence.

These custodial sentences for minors (section 91) are issued by the Court of the Crown (Crown Court, higher court) for those accused of “serious offences” (violent and sexual offences listed in section 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act of 2000). These sentences generally last over two years.

Courts can also rule:

  • A discharge from sentencing: the court finds the accused guilty but is discharged.
  • A conditional discharge): the offender is not sanctioned, but must abide a period of time in which no other offence must be committed
  • A fine
  • A compensatory fine: when a person is sentenced they may receive a compulsory surcharge. Ranging from £10 to £30, this surcharge is used to fund services for the victim.

The Youth Custody Service (YCS) decides where people under the age of 18 should be placed. A minor in custody may be placed in a young offender’s institution (YOI), in a secure training centre (STC) or in a secure children’s home (SCH). The individual circumstances and possible risks of each young person are taken into account when deciding on a placement. Girls under the age of 18 are placed either in an STC or SCH.

Both public and private young offender institutions (YOI) accommodate boys between the ages of 15 to 21. The operational capacity at these facilities varies from between 60 to 400 people (30 to 60 people per unit). There are 5 YOI centres:

  • Cookham Wood prison (Rochester, Kent):operational capacity (OC) of 188 places
  • Feltham prison (Middlesex): OC of 180 places
  • Parc prison (Bridgend): OC of 60 places. Private management (provider: G4S)
  • Werrington prison (West Yorkshire): OC of 118
  • Wetherby prison (West Yorkshire): OC of 288 places [^operational]

Public and private secure training centres (STC), are institutions for minors up to the age of 17. They generally include girls over the age of 12 and boys between the ages of 12 to 14. If boys are considered to be vulnerable, after assessment, they can be placed in an STC until the age of 17. These typically accommodate between 50 to 80 people (5 to 8 people per unit). There are three STCs:

  • Medway (Rochester, Kent): OC of 67 girls and boys
  • Oakhill (Milton Keynes): OC of 80 boys. Private management (provider: G4S)
  • Rainsbrook (Rugby): OC of 76 girls and boys. Private management (provider: MTCnovo)1

Secure Children’s Homes (SCH) accommodate minors aged between 10 and 14. These centres do not belong to the prison administration but are managed by local authorities. They can accommodate 8 to 40 children[^Estate]. There are 15 SCHs. Ofsted, rather than HM Inspectorate of Prisons inspects SCHs in England and the Care and Social services with Estyn inspects SCHs in Wales (Estyn) 2.

Boys between the ages of 15 and 17 with complex needs can be placed in the Keppel unit of Wetherby Prison. These complex needs include “(among others) high risk to self and/ or others, physical or mental health needs, learning disabilities, communication needs and substance misuse“. The Keppel Unit has 48 places. It provides on-site teaching and care and has a team trained to work with “young people deemed to have comple needs”. 3:

Young pregnant women, or young mothers with a child under the age of 18 months can be placed in a Mother-Baby unit.


  1. HM Inspectorate of Prisons, “Children in Custody 2017–18: An analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions (Analysis of experiences of young people from 12 to 18 years placed in STC and YOI)”, 2019, p. 16. 

  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons, “Children in Custody 2017–18: An analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions (Analysis of experiences of young people from 12 to 18 years placed in STC and YOI)”, 2019, p. 14. 

  3. HM Prison & Probation Service and Youth Custody Service, “Guidance for the placement of young people with complex needs” 2012, p. 3. 

Figures on juvenile prisoners are published

on a regular basis: state the frequency

Juvenile prisoners are separated from adults

yes

Young prisoners between the ages of 15 to 17 are accommodated in Young Offender Institutions and are separate from those aged between 18 to 20.

The law provides for single cell accommodation for juvenile prisoners

yes

The schooling of minors is compulsory

yes

Incarcerated minors (up to the age of 16 in England and Wales) receive a compulsory education and benefit from at least 15 hours per week of lessons or educational programmes (YOI Rule 32.4).1

Special arrangements must be made for minors over the age of 17 with specific educational needs (YOI Rule 38)


  1. Nicola Padfield & Nancy Loucks, “Le système pénitentiaire anglais et gallois” (The English and Welsh prison system), in J. Céré and C. E. Japiassú (éds.), Les systèmes pénitentiaires dans le monde (Prison systems in the world), 2018, p. 36. 

The law prohibits strip searches for juvenile prisoners

no

Prison facilities must keep a record of all full searches. 1

The law forbids solitary confinement for juvenile prisoners

no

Solitary confinement for juvenile offenders is used as a method to maintain a degree of order and discipline or if it’s in their best interest. (YOI Rule 49). A young offender can appeal against being placed in solitary confinement before and after the decision is made. [^Pso17]

The law prohibits the use of solitary confinement as a means of disciplining young offenders. (YOI Rule 60(f).

  • Several children admitted recently to the Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre were confined to their rooms for more than 23.5 hours a day for periods of seven to fourteen days in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures were denounced by Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission. The inspectorates had sent a warning in October 2020, but there was no follow-up. Consequently, a rare “urgent notification” was submitted to the Secretary of State for Justice.

    i
    18/12/2021
    / GOV.UK

Specific activities are planned for minors and vary depending on the establishment. As a general rule there is more emphasis on professional or academic training (English and mathslessons). Secure training and childcare centres must guarantee children 30 hours weekly education and training.

Lessons reflect those given in schools. One of the rules of Young Offender Institutions, implemented in 2000, (YOI Rules 2000) specifies that institutions must help young prisoners to reintegrate by “suggesting a programme of activities, including teaching, training and work enabling offenders to acquire or develop a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, physical health, interests and skills and to find, when released, a job that suits them.”

The majority of education is provided by private, profit making, companies.

Education contracts at Young Offender Institutions last for five years. They are managed by the Education & Skills Funding Agency. Their funding ranges from between £38 million to £60 million.

  • Young offenders at Cookham Wood did not spend enough time outside of their cells, only four and a half hours a day during the week and two hours on the week-ends. Most of them would get only 12 hours of schooling per week. A youth custody service spokesperson at the Ministry of Justice explained that “access to education and time out of cells would increase as we lift the remaining pandemic restrictions, which saved thousands of lives”.

    i
    16/11/2021
    / BBC

The number of specially trained staff varies according to the type of facility. Staff working in secure children’s homes are well trained. They demonstrate the ability to “teach, care and exhibit behavioural skills particularly suited to the needs of children”. According to the Howard League, staff at Secure Training Centres (STCs) are fewer and not as well trained. Their approach is more punitive. Young Offender Institutions are larger and there are less well-trained staff. Opportunities to work, activities and training are also fewer. These establishments are, according to the Howard League, “totally unsuitable for children”. These are secure institutions where the majority of incarcerated children are detained.

Facilities for young offenders have the highest degree of violence. 1 The rate of assaults (2,750 per 1,000 young prisoners) is almost seven times higher in youth offender facilities than in those for adults (403 per 1,000 prisoners) 2


  1. Nicola Padfield & Nancy Loucks, “Le système pénitentiaire anglais et gallois” (The English and Welsh prison system), in J. Céré and C. E. Japiassú (éds.), Les systèmes pénitentiaires dans le monde (Prison systems in the world), 2018, p. 36. 

  2. Ministry of Justice, safety in custody summary tables up to September 2018

11.1 % (9,090)

There were 8,677 men and 413 women as of 31 December 2018.

i
12/2018

The most common nationalities in prisons are Polish (9%), Albanian (8%), Romanian (8%), Irish (8%) and Jamaican (5%). 1

Foreign prisoners are informed of their right to communicate with their consular representatives

yes

When foreign prisoners are arrested they are informed of their right to contact the appropriate consular office or High Commission ad hoc. They can send a letter to the consular authorities at the establishment’s expense. 1

The prison regulations are translated for foreign prisoners

yes

The prison administration provides foreign prisoners with a factsheet concerning migrants kept in prison once their sentence has ended.

Prison Reform Trust developed this document in 2013 in partnership with the former body providing assistance and advice to migrants at risk of detention or detainees (Detention Advice Service, DAS).

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter

in some cases

Foreign prisoners may have access to a professional interpreter in court, during interviews with a lawyer or during police interrogations in prison.

They can have free access to an interpreter for a court tribunal. Foreign prisoners, like all foreign people in the UK, may have access to an interpreter to communicate with state agencies (hospitals, social services, drug and alcohol addiction counselling and probation services, police station, etc…).

If a foreign prisoner receives legal aid they are able to finance the services of an interpreter for discussions with their lawyer. The lawyer claims the interpreter’s fee as a government expenses.The lawyer must consider the necessity for an interpreter. The lawyer accompanies the interpreter to the prison. [^Matei]

Foreign prisoners are entitled to legal aid

yes

Illegal residence in the UK is punishable by imprisonment. The Immigration Act of 1971 (Section 24) allows the issuing of a fine and / or six months imprisonment

These can begiven as a result of:

  • Illegal entry into the UK
  • Overstaying
  • Refusal to leave the country
  • Failing to report to a medical officer
  • Violation of a condition of authorisation for temporary admission
  • Escaping during an administrative removal procedure.
  • Unlawful boarding.

Foreign prisoners are allowed to remain in the country after having served their sentence

no

Foreign prisoners sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment under the UK Borders Act of 2007, and outside the European Economic Area (EEA), are automatically deported at the end of their sentence. They can avoid this if they demonstrate that the deportation “violates their rights guaranteed by the Human Rights Act”. Foreign nationals of an EEA country can only be deported in accordance to “public action, public security or public health”. Irish citizens are only deported in exceptional circumstances.[^Remain]

It is the decision of the Borders and Immigration Agency to deport prisoners at the end of their sentences. The prisoner is informed of the decision and an IDO (Immigration Detention Order) is sent to the appropriate facility. Foreign prisoners refusing deportation may be able to make an appeal via a counsellor. Prisoners are kept in detention or transferred to detention centres whilst their deportation is pending.[^Deportation]

Foreign prisoners are allowed to work while incarcerated

yes

Foreigners in prison have the same status and rights as untried prisoners. This means that they are allowed to work, without it being compulsory as for convicted adult prisoners.

The PSI 49/2011 on prisoner communication services guarantees foreign prisoners, or prisoners whose close family live abroad, a free call of five minutes every four weeks. This is granted if the prisoner has not been visited by someone close to them in the previous four weeks. Foreign prisoner are allowed to make calls outside of regular hours if the time difference between their country of origin and the United Kingdom makes it necessary. Financial assistance is granted if essential. Women detained at Holloway Prison receive an additional phone credit each month when they have no family visits. [^Life]

According to Nicola Padfield, there is a current lack of a national policy concerning foreign prisoners. She states that institutions do not possess a definite number of foreign prisoners held under their authority. [^Held]

Foreign prisoners can seek the help of the following organisations:

  • The Immigration Advisory Service (legal assistance group for migrants)
  • The Detention Advice Service (DAS, body providing assistance and advice to migrants at risk of detention or detained)
  • The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI, independent organisation providing legal support to migrants and combating discrimination)
  • The Refugee Legal Centre (RLC, provides assistance to asylum seekers) 1

  1. Prison Reform Trust and HM Prison Service / NOMS, “Prisoners’ Information Book: male prisoners and young offenders, 2008, p. 20-21. 

Cumulative sentences have a limit

no

The court decides if a sentence should be served consecutively or concurrently. The court considers whether the issued sentence is “just and proportionate”.1

There are specific prison facilities for long-term prisoners

no

Prisoners serving long sentences are not subject to a specific prison regime. Specific regimes are considered for prisoners on an individual basis, based on gender, age and the presumed dangerous nature of the person (refer to the section Prison population).

Life sentences are banned

no

The Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP governed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003) allowed indefinite imprisonment if the court deemed the convicted prisoner to be a continued threat to society. Its abolition in 2012 has not been implemented retrospectively. As of September 2018, 2,598 people were still sentenced to an IPP. This was 20% less than previous years. Experts Dirk van Zyl Smit and Catherine Appleton consider an IPP to be an unofficial life sentence. [^Prt]

IPP sentences have been replaced by an extended sentence of up to eight years. The court issues these to prisoners over the age of 18 who represent “a significant danger to the public”.

People serving a life sentence

8.6 % (7,083)
i
12/2018

Variation in the number of people serving a life sentence

a decrease of 1 %

compared to the previous year

Life sentences, are, with the abolition of the death penalty in 1965, systematically issued in murder cases. A murder conviction can be given without the intent to kill or to someone who has failed to prevent a murder. 1 Rape and armed robbery are also punishable by life imprisonment.


  1. Prison Reform Trust, Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, 2018, p. 6. 

There are specific prison facilities for life-sentenced prisoners

no

Prisoners serving a life sentence are not subject to a specific prison regime. However, special prison regimes are considered in relation to the age or the presumed dangerous nature of the prisoner. (See section Prison population).

A person sentenced to life imprisonment may be able to apply for parole. This is only possible after their minimum sentence is completed.

Once the prisoner is released, they become subject to an indefinite supervised release on licence. They can be returned to prison at any time.

The average minimum length of term for murder convictions increased in England and Wales from 12.5 years in 2003, to 21.3 years in 2016. The law, created in 2003, established minimum term requirements for a large number of punishable offences, which require life sentencing. A whole life order is “the harshest of sentences”. A minimum term is not served for a whole life order. Its aim is to detain the prisoners until their death. No review or release is possible. No prisoner with a life order has ever been released. 1


  1. Prison Reform Trust, Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, 2018, p. 6. 

12.2 % (10,043)
i
12/2018
  • One-tenth of the population, or 1,523 persons, had been awaiting trial for over a year. The Ministry of Justice reported that 475 people had been detained for more than two years without trial, while the law provided it should be a maximum of six months. The COVID-19 pandemic added to the delays. The Fair Trials organization denounced the inhuman treatment fostered by a “cruel, broken system”.

    i
    2021
    / Fair Trials

Variation in the number of untried prisoners

a decrease of 9%

There were 9,639 untried prisonners in December 2017.

  • A Justice Ministry report revealed that the number of prisoners awaiting trial on 31 March was the highest in ten years.

    i
    01/05/2021
    / The Press

Untried prisoners are separated from the convicted

yes

This rule is often disregarded.

Defendants are generally kept in local prisons (see Prison facilities section)1.


  1. Nicola Padfield & Nancy Loucks, “Le système pénitentiaire anglais et gallois” (The English and Welsh prison system), in J. Céré and C. E. Japiassú (éds.), Les systèmes pénitentiaires dans le monde (Prison systems in the world), 2018, p. 35. 

The law provides for release on bail for untried prisoners

yes

A defendant who has been released on bail discloses their home address to the court. If reasonable grounds exist, bail can be continually requested. The court subsequently imposes the conditions of bail (for example, a daily appearance in court or at the police station, placement under electronic surveillance, etc.).[^Tag]

The length of a Custody time limit (CTL) is defined by the Prosecution of Offences Act of 1985. This is 112 days for an adult accused of an indictable offence. 1

The legal period of a custody time limit for a criminal act tried by a Crown Court (indictable only offence) is 182 days. The public prosecutor may request an extension of the legal duration of detention. No time limit is set for the crime of treason. [^Clt]


  1. “Minor offences” are likely to be tried swiftly by a specific court (Magistrate’s Court) whilst “serious offences” are tried by a Crown Court. 

Unconvicted prisoners are treated as if they were innocent. They receive certain benefits, including:

  • Benefits from the NHS (National Health Service) as well as private healthcare if they so choose
  • They retain the right to vote
  • Personal clothing is allowed
  • Work is not compulsory 1
  • They may receive a greater number of visitation rights than convicts. Every defendant has the right to three weekly visits of one hour. One of these visits can take place on weekends. [^Visits]

The Chief Inspector of Prisons has criticised the conditions of unconvicted prisoners on several occasions in recent years. He was concerned that the accommodation provided did not respect their fundamental rights. He was particularly concerned by an increase in physical harm, such as higher rates of suicide and self-harm. [^Her]


  1. Prison Reform Trust and HM Prison Service / NOMS, “Prisoners’ Information Book: male prisoners and young offenders, 2008, p. 14-15. 

Data collection about prisoners’ minority or indigenous background is allowed

yes

As of June 2018, 73% of men and 83% of women in prisons were white, whilst 13% of men and 8% of women were black.

Minority or indigenous backgrounds are criteria for specific cell or unit assignment

no

Prisoners belonging to specific minority or ethnic groups are not subject to a particular prison regime.

The specific needs of prisoners are taken into account with regard to

  • language
  • religion
  • dietary requirements

Statistics from the Department of Justice demonstrate that the proportion of black prisoners declined over the last decade. There was an 11% decrease of black women in prisons during these years and a 2% decrease of black males. Whilst the proportion of white men did not change during this period, there was a 12% increase in the number of white women. [^Stat]

The average length of sentences varies considerably among ethnic groups. 1 Sentences served by white prisoners are shorter (by 18 months) than that of other groups. Ethnic groups with the longest average length of detention are Asian (27 months), followed by Black (26 months) and Mixed Raced (22 months) offenders. Men, women and children of these groups tend to be given longer sentences.


  1. The ethnic groups mentioned above are listed in official UK government statistics. 

The prosecution or imprisonment of a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned

yes

LGBTI persons are separated from other prisoners

in some cases

In certain cases the prison governor will place transgender individuals in specific Care and Separation.

However, the prison administration often advises against taking this decision.

The Transgender Case Board must be informed within eight days of such a placement. This decision can be overturned in favour of alternative measures. 1


  1. National Offender Management Service, “The Care and Management of Transgender Offender”, Instructions of 1 January 2017 on the management of transgender offenders, p. 18. 

The prison service provides certain special protective measures for LGBTQ prisoners. Prisons facilities must “take responsibility for the fight against discrimination and harassment on grounds of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability” (Equalities Act 2010). Some institutions have created support groups for LGBTQ people. 1

Private sanitary facilities are sometimes organised for transgender prisoners. Specific care is given to avoid the isolation of prisoners. The Minister of Justice also recommends allowing transgender people access to community centred support organisations. Online courses are offered to staff regarding the rights of transgender and non-binary persons. These personnel are encouraged to recognise gender identities and to ensure the personal safety of such prisoners. 2


  1. Howard League, “Consensual sex among men in prison: Briefing paper 1” (note on consensual homosexual intercourse between men in prison). 

  2. Department of Justice, “Review on the Care and Management of Transgender Offenders, December 2015, p. 6-7. 

Assignment of transgender prisoners to a specific facility depends on

their own identification

“All transgender prisoners must be supported to express which gender they identify as in court”1

This is not always necessary. It is possible to override gender self-identification if there is a lack of evidence and / or an identified risk to the individual (the individual is placed in a location which may not correspond to the gender of which they identify). The decision must be based on clear criteria and deemed to take into account the safety of the prisoner and of other prisoners. The Ministry of Justice believes that “regardless of where prisoners are held, they should be respected in the gender in which they identify, being provided with those items that enable their gender expression”“ 2:

Transgender prisoners are entitled to customised searches

yes

“Prisoners who have requested or obtained legal recognition of the gender of which they identify must be searched in accordance with their legal gender, unless otherwise agreed”.

A transgender prisoner seeking recognition for their gender transition must indicate to the chair of the Transgender Case Board or appropriate staff their preferences for searches. Searches must reflect the legal gender of the offender. It is possible for prisoners who have not obtained legal recognition of their gender to reach a voluntary agreement (VA). This type of agreement can also be initiated for gender-fluid offenders (cross-dresser, non-binary etc). 1 The terms of search are specified in the agreement.


  1. National Offender Management Service, “The Care and Management of Transgender Offenders”, Instructions from the 1 January 2017 on the management of transgender offenders, p. 15. 

Transgender prisoners benefit from specific health care

in certain cases

The prison service insures that transgender prisoners suffering from gender dysphoria receive the same treatment as they would outside. This includes consultations, pre-operative and post-operative care and continuous access to hormonal treatment.

Prisoners can also request re-assignment surgery. The general practitioner of the facility is then required to consult an expert in gender dysphoria. [^Trans]

Conjugal visits are allowed for LGBTI prisoners

the law does not mention conjugal visits

The prison service keeps a record of elderly prisoners

yes

Statistics from 2002 to 2016 demonstrate that prisoners aged 60 and over were the fastest growing group in prisons.

Elderly prisoners (≥60 years)

6.1 % (5,032)
i
2018
  • 60 to 70: 3,299
  • 70 and over: 1,733

The number of elderly prisoners increased by 3 % compared to the previous year. The were 4,884 elderly prisoners as of 31 December 2017.

  • In September, Risley prison had 77 prisoners aged 60 or older. This represented 8.2% of the prison population, the highest proportion recorded since 2015. The high number of older persons in prison affected the number of deaths. Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, explained: “Our population is aging, and so inevitably this is reflected in the numbers of older persons living, and dying, in prisons.”

    i
    15/11/2021
    / Warrington Guardian

The Care Act of 2014 guarantees the social protection of incarcerated, disabled and elderly people. It states that “elderly people have the right to the same public protection as they would receive outside of the prison system”. Local authorities must guarantee adequate support, evaluations and meet the needs of elderly prisoners. According to the Prison Reform Trust, there is little national strategy aimed at the specific needs of elderly prisoners. This is causing situational disparity.

In general, support is considered on an individual basis for these prisoners. Prison Reform Trust acknowledges some best practices. For example, young offenders in certain facilities are trained to care for people with physical of mental disabilities. Individual needs in the training and teaching of older people are also often considered. Certain facilities have specially adapted areas for people over the age of 50 and can be visited by Age UK, a charitable organisation. 1


  1. Prison Reform Trust and Restore Support Network, “Social care or systematic neglect? Older people on release from prison”, 2016, p. 5-8. 

The law does not provide the early release of elderly prisoners. However, theymight be eligible for release for certain medical reasons (refer to the sentence in the sentence adjustment section).

Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities

in some facilities

  • Prisoners with hearing problems are considered to be living in conditions of exclusion. This situation was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and would persist after it if no significant changes are made.

    i
    13/04/2021
    / The Conversation

Members of staff from “Diversity teams” are trained in the care of prisoners with disabilities. These diversity officers (equality officers, disability liaison officers) are taught how to support, inform and advise these prisoners. They can also work alongside medical staff and those in charge of the unit to ensure proper care is administered. 1

The Equality Act of 2010 states that “prisoners with disabilities must receive the necessary assistance to do the same activities as other prisoners, such as working or going to the gym”. 2

Prisoners with disabilities can have access to a nurse or a doctor. They can also request assistance from the diversity team. Prison rules and regulations are made accessible via simplified text or audio recordings.

The facility must provide “reasonable accommodation” either by adapting the facility or by transferring the prisoner. The prisoner is able to request a wheelchair or walking stick via social services.

Members of staff are required to help prisoners with disabilities, or ask for help from trained inmates. They support them with various tasks, such as; reading, filling out forms, using the telephone, washing their clothes, following medical treatments and accessing information. Specially trained prisoners will occasionally wear a particular T-shirt or a band to distinguish them. 3


  1. National Offender Management Service and Prison Reform Trust, Information book for prisoners with a disability, p. 13. 

  2. National Offender Management Service and Prison Reform Trust, Information book for prisoners with a disability, p. 5. 

  3. Ibid., p. 18. 

Death penalty is abolished

yes

since 1998