Daily life

All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air


The amount of time spent outdoors varies from one facility to another. It is often about 30 minutes, despite the rule being one hour (Prison Rule 30). The administration uses weather conditions and the need for order and discipline to limit time spent outdoors.1

The Inspectorate of Prisons observed this limited period and deplored the fact that inmates have to choose between this exercise and other necessities (shower, phone call, etc.). They noted that many outside excercise areas remained austere, dirty and uninviting.2

  1. Prison Reform Trust Regime and time out of cellule

  2. Chief Inspector of Prisons, “Annual Report 2017-18”, July 2018, p. 39. 

  • The daily routine of people incarcerated at Forest Bank was upset by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prisoners would spend 23 hours a day in their cells, “with time on the exercise yard limited to just 30 minutes”. It was reported that they had all been given televisions and that in-cell bingo games had been organised to help them pass the time.

    / Manchester Evening News
  • The president of the Prison Governors’ Association said that lockdown freedoms need to be extended to prisoners. She warned there would be a “significant kickback” if prisoners were forced to spend up to 23 hours a day in their cell while Covid-19-linked restrictions were easing in the rest of the country. Prisoners were at the time only allowed to leave their cells for certain education and training sessions and visits from outside were “limited”.

    / The Telegraph
  • At Exeter prison, inmates were forced to isolate continuously, 24/7, due to a wave of coronavirus infections in the facility. The prisoner’s families were worried about the mental and physical health of their loved ones. They denounced, among other things, the lack of access to showers for consecutive days, food that lacks in quality and quantity, as well as the accumulation of rubbish in cells. Symptomatic prisoners or those in contact with symptomatic prisoners at Moorlands prison were forced to self-isolate. They were not allowed to leave their cells to shower or exercise outside.

    / Devon Live

The prison service offers activities to prisoners


All prisoners are assessed for their skills development needs upon arrival. These are recorded in an “Individual Learning Plan” (ILP)“. This plan is available to the prison service and external providers. Access to employment, training and skills development is subject to the prison service’s proposals, the providers’ offer and the prison regime.

The activities usually offered are as follows:

  • vocational training and skills development
  • sport activities
  • cultural and artistic activities
  • rehabilitation programmes
  • work1

  1. Department of Justice, PSI 03/2012 on activities assignment

There are designated places for physical activities and sports


Prisoners under the age of 21 must be given at least two hours of physical activity per week (Rule 41 for Juvenile Institutions). Prisoners over the age of 21 have to be provided with at least one hour (Prison Rule 29).

Certain clubs and groups support prisoners in various ways:

  • Chelsea Football Club and England Rugby Union, at Portland prison (18-21 year olds)
  • Street Soccer Academy (street football), at Forest Bank prison (18-21 year olds and adults)
  • Airborne Initiative, outside external programme at Feltham, Brinsford, Cookham Wood, Werrington, Guys Marsh and Berwyn prisons (18-21 year olds)
  • Get Onside, Saracens rugby club programme and Fulham football club at Feltham prison (18-21 year olds)
  • Urban Stars South Gloucestershire, at Ashfield prison (18 and under)1

There are designated places for cultural activities


Cultural and artistic activities vary from prison to prison. Workshops, events, performances and film screenings are offered by external individuals and organisations.

Main activities:

Cultural activities and entertainment organised by prison libraries, such as Storybook Dads, which is an activity intended to promote the relationship between fathers and their children.These men record stories that they intend for their childen.1

  1. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, “Annual Report 2017-2018”. 

Prisoners are not involved in choosing activities. Management is responsible for this and it involves different local stakeholders. The main aim is to enable prisoners to have a stable job when they leave. The range of activities and the number of beneficiaries are subject to an agreement (Service Level Agreement) between prisons and service providers.1

  1. Department of Justice, PSI 03/2012 on activities assignment

Prison staff inform the prison population about the activities offered, the number of places available and the registration procedure. They are responsible for assigning each interested prisoner to a particular type of activity. They take into account individual needs, the risks involved and the sentence execution plan, which is always a priority. Prisoners can request a change of activities and be placed on a waiting list. The waiting time is communicated to them. They are notified of the decision in writing (PSI 03/2012).

Prison facilities have a library



Prisoners must be allowed to go there once a week.1

  1. National Offender Management Service and Prison Reform Trust,“Information book for prisoners with a disability“, p. 20. 

Work is compulsory


Refusal to work is a disciplinary offense. It may affect the person’s IEP status (incentives and privileges).

Work is optional for those pending trial. In case of refusal, no other position will be offered to them.

All prisoners are allowed to work


Labour as a punitive measure is prohibited


Employment opportunities are low, particularly for defendants. Most frequent opportunities are in industrial manufacturing, agriculture and gardening. General prison services (maintenance, kitchen… ) are also a source of employment.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. 34. 

Prisons assign work stations according to the IEP classification of the person. The most motivating and best-paid positions are offered to the highest ranked prisoners first. [^ rank] Jobs usually come from external companies or associations. The prison administration and these companies are bound by contracts.

List of main activites proposed:

  • assembly and packaging
  • recycling
  • laundry
  • woodwork
  • signage
  • textile
  • printing
  • agriculture
  • carpentry
  • technical work1

  1. Prisoners’ Advice Service, “Information Sheet: Work & Pay”, June 2018, p. 1. 

Prisoners do not benefit from an employment contract.

Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest


“Constructive activities” include work and are limited to ten hours per day.1

  1. Prisoners’ Advice Service, “Information Sheet: Work & Pay”, June 2018, p. 1. 

Prisoners are paid for their work


Salaries are

much lower than the usual salaries.

The minimum weekly wage for a prisoner is £ 4 (approximately $ 5.2) per week).1 It is established by the circulaire PSO 4460. The average salary is £7. Prisoners in an educational programme also receive an allowance.2

Earnings in excess of £20 per week are taxable (Prisoners’ Earnings Act, which came into force in 2011). Most prisoners are paid eight to ten pounds per week.3

  1. Prisoners’ Advice Service, “Information Sheet: Work & Pay”, June 2018, p. 1. 

  2. 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. 34. 

  3. Prisoners’ Advice Service, “Information Sheet: Work & Pay”, June 2018, p. 1-2. 

Prisoners are paid on a piecework basis


Their income is subject to social contributions


Health and safety standards applicable outside are respected in prison


Authority(ies) in charge of education and vocational training

Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS)

  • Teaching personnel were not happy with their work conditions. Seven out of ten educators wanted to leave their jobs within five years. They were unhappy with their pay, lack of progression routes in their career and the lack of support from prison administration.

    / Tes

Vocational education and / or training can be delegated to external bodies. Prisoner’s Education Trust (PET), a charitable organisation, has been offering educational programs since 1989. Every year it provides some 3,000 prisoners with distance training, arts and recreation supplies, counselling, and other services.

Education is provided

in all the facilities

Education is available for all prisoners


The training offered usually includes courses in mathematics, reading, English, business and arts education.

The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy


The basic notions of reading, writing and arithmetic are assessed at the beginning of the sentence. The administration is required to address any deficiencies.1 Many libraries host literacy activities.2

  1. Department of Justice, PSI 06/2012 on employment, training and skills development for prisoners 

  2. Chief Inspector of Prisons, “Annual Report 2017-18”, July 2018, p. 39 . 

Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations


Vocational training is provided


Prison administrations provide professional training and support for teachers.1 The training courses usually offered include plumbing, hairdressing, masonry, bicycle mechanics…

  1. Chief Inspector of Prisons, “Annual Report 2017-18”, July 2018, p. 42 . 

Vocational training is available for all prisoners


The supply of vocational training is insufficient.

Distance courses are available


The PSI 3/2012 specifies the framework for higher education and distance education. Prisoners who wish to enroll in the Open University or other higher or distance education programs must pass security checks and obtain internal authorisation. Untried prisoners are not allowed to enrol.

Prisoners have access to computers

in some facilities

Prisoners in Guernsey Prison may have computers in their cells, not connected to the Internet.

  • The Ministry of Justice said that nine prisons would receive computers and tablets between July 2021 and March 2022. The prisons concerned were: Lindholme, Ranby, Stoke Heath Garth, The Mount, Swaleside, Erlestoke, Styal, New Hall. Berwyn and Wayland prisons would also have their technology upgraded. All Young Offender Institutions – YOI would also be upgraded before Spring 2022. Landline telephones would be installed in the cells of 16 other facilities.

    / InsideTime

Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs


Prisoners have access to a television

yes, by location (£1 per week)

Francesca Cooney points out that television in prison is the result of “double privilege”: good behaviour and sufficient income.

The prisoner must be classified at the IEP level Standard or Enhance (“improved”) (circulaire PSI 30/2013). They must pay one pound per week for the rental. This amount is divided among the occupants of the cell.1

Many prisoners with IEP Basic level or in solitary confinement or with low resources do not have access to it. Beneficiaries are financially responsible for the good condition of the television set.

  1. HM Inspectorate of Prisons, “Life in prison: Earning and spending money”, January 2016, p. 8 . 

Prisoners have access to a radio


Prisoners have access to the press


All prisoners are given at least one issue of Inside Time, the national prisoners’ newspaper. They can purchase magazines and newspapers of their choice.

The most represented religions are: Anglicanism (19%), Catholicism (18%), Islam (15%) and other Christian religions (12%). Each of the other faiths account for less than 1%.1

  1. British Religion in Numbers, “Religion in prison, 1975-2015”) (data supplied by the Department for Justice) 

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs


The prison administration recognises the right of everyone to mention their religion and to practice it.1

  • Muslim prisoners have difficulty practicing their religion. Those who observe the Ramadan fast have no alarm clocks and must depend on prison staff to fulfill their religious obligations. Some of the officers deliberately refuse to awaken them. Others threaten to deprive them of prayer time if they fail to obey the slightest prison rule.


Dedicated places of worship are available

in all facilities

Each facility is required to have places of worship and meditation. Their size must correspond to the number of practitioners. Their configuration must respect religious needs.1

There are chaplains in the prisons


The following religions usually have chaplains:

  • Anglican
  • Catholic
  • Methodist
  • Muslim
  • Buddhist
  • Jewish
  • Hindism
  • Sikhism

Any person practicing another religion may also call upon a representative.1

The prison service remunerates the chaplains

varies by facility.

Chaplains are whether employed (full-time and part-time), sessionally paid or unremunerated.1

Policies for prevention of radicalisation been implemented. The concerned prisoners must be, since 2017, placed in “separation centers” located within prisons. The placement of these is the responsibility of the Secretary of State.1

The Security, Order and Counter Terrorism directorate (SOCT) assists the prison administration in preventing radicalisation. In April 2017, the Minister of State for Prisons established, a Joint Extremism Unit. It gathers and analyses the intelligence of around 100 counter-terrorism specialists.

The prevention policy includes the training of 13,000 prison officers. It is designed to “respond to the challenges posed by extremism”, improve the evaluation of chaplains, and eliminate “extremist writers“.2

A publication on dealing with and reporting extremist behaviour is addressed to staff members. (PSI publication 43/2011).It is confidential.

  1. Prison Rule 46A 

  2. HM Prison & Probation Service, Annual report financial statement 2017-18, p. 21 . 

  • Two murders were committed and several people were wounded following the parole of two prisoners held on terrorism charges. A training module for staff who work with terrorist offenders was added to the training of prison officers. The Ministry of Justice awarded a contract of £150,000 ($212,301) to the Minerva Advisory Group run by a veteran of the reconstruction and humanitarian program in Iraq. The government was also seeking another organisation to create an e-training course for all prison staff.

    / The National News
  • One-third of the 28 places reserved for prisoners “considered likely to radicalise others” were occupied. These were located in “Separation Centres”, specially assigned areas inside prisons, sometimes known as “prisons within prison”. The Ministry of Justice indicated it wanted to increase the use of these centres. One prisoner out of the five held in the Frankland prison separation centre would be expected to want to be de-radicalised.

    / InsideTime

Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities


Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by

the governor

The main agencies authorised to enter prisons:

  • Community Chaplaincy Association brings together voluntary faith-based organisations. They offer sponsorship and support programmes for prisoners, former prisoners and their families.
  • Clean Break offers theatre-based education and vocational training programmes for women prisoners.
  • City & Guilds offers courses and training (construction, maths and English, hospitality, administration, hairdressing and beauty…). It operates in more than 120 facilities.1
  • Kainos Community, offers the “Challenge to Change “ program, certified by the prison administration. This one deals with “attitude and behaviour”. It is affiliated with the Langley House Trust.
  • PACT, a national charity, that provides material and psychological support to prisoners and their families
  • Prisoners Education Trust (PET), a charitable organisation,that offers distance education, advice, and arts and recreation supplies.
  • Prison Fellowship brings together prayer group volunteers. They visit and support prisoners,
  • RECOOP is intended for elderly prisoners. It provides them with basic social protection, the defence of their rights, but also services, information and advice,
  • Spurgeons accompanies children on visits to their detained parent. They work in seven prisons in London and run the “Invisible Walls” at Winchester prison.
  • The Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul (SSVP), is an international Catholic charity that visits prisoners and supports their families.

  1. Department of Justice, “quarterly statistics, England and Wales, January 2019”, p. 1-2 . 

Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources


Financial resources are accessible

on a registered account

The expenses of each prisoner are limited to a maximum of £25.50 per week. This limit depends on the status of the person (remanded or sentenced) and their behaviour. (IEP classification).1

  1. HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Life in prison: Earning and spending money, January 2016, p. 3 . 

Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support


The prison administration contributes a weekly allowance to prisoners in the following cases :

  • unemployed: £2.50
  • short-term illness (up to 4 weeks): £2.50
  • long-term illness (more than 4 weeks): £3.25
  • pensioner/maternity leave or full care of child by mother: £3.25 -
  • outpatient hospitalisation: £4.35

Prisoners have the right of association


Such associations may not be legal entities.

Prisoners have the right to vote

yes, some prisoners

Persons convicted of a criminal offence do not have the right to vote.

A minority of people can vote remotely:

  • people in pre-trial detention
  • non sentenced persons
  • civil prisoners

The exercise of the right to vote implies registration on the electoral roll. The registration form must be sent to the relevant department at least 12 working days before the election. Voting is done in two ways:

  • by post: facilities receive ballot papers in advance of the elections. Each voter fills in his ballot paper and returns it. Any ballot paper that arrives after ten in the morning on the day of the vote is not counted.
  • by proxy: the prisoner authorises a third party to vote on their behalf. The proxy holder receives a receipt.1

  1. Website of the Prison Reform Trust, Voting whilst in prison 

No institution has its own written publication or radio or television programme involving prisoners.

Any prisoner may send their written contribution to Inside Time, the monthly national publication for prisoners. The editorial staff handles more than 8,500 letters from individuals and associations each year.

The National Prison Radio, run by the Prison Radio Association (PRA), broadcasts programmes by and for prisoners in over 100 facilities in England and Wales.

Prisoners may speak to the media. Communication is carried out by mail, telephone or visits. The rules governing such communication vary from one prison to another. The authorisation of the prison governor is required if the information provided by the prisoner is to be published or disseminated. The authorised conversation is monitored by a member of staff.