Comprehensive Guide to Prisons in the UK

Prison Info

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to prisons in the UK. Through this guide, we aim to provide precise, concise, and relevant information about the UK prison system.

A Brief Overview

The United Kingdom currently houses more than 80,000 prisoners across its prison system, which is one of the largest in Europe. The prison estate includes a mixture of public sector prisons managed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), and private prisons contracted out to private companies.

Classification of Prisons

UK prisons are categorized into four classes: Category A, B, C, and D.

  • Category A: Prisons for inmates who pose the highest risk to the public and national security.
  • Category B: Prisons for prisoners who do not require maximum security, but for whom escape would be highly dangerous.
  • Category C: Prisons for prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are not likely to make a determined escape attempt.
  • Category D: Prisons for inmates who can be trusted to serve their sentence in open conditions.

Public and Private Prisons

UK prisons are managed either publicly or privately. Public prisons are managed by HMPPS, and private prisons are managed by private companies like G4S, Serco, and Sodexo Justice services.

Youth Custodial Services

Young people who commit crimes are often sent to Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), Secure Training Centres (STCs) or Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs).

Women’s Prisons

There are twelve women’s prisons in England, accommodating women over the age of 18. All of these are closed facilities, with the exception of Askham Grange which is a Category D open prison.

Rights of Prisoners

Inmates in the UK have rights under the law, such as access to healthcare services, respect for dignity and the opportunity to engage in meaningful work whilst serving their sentence.

Prisoner Rehabilitation

The UK prison system places a strong emphasis on the rehabilitation of prisoners, aimed at reducing re-offending rates. Programmes include education schemes, vocational training and interventions to address offending behaviour.

Prisoner Healthcare

Prisoners in the UK have access to healthcare facilities, which include general and mental health services. These services are equivalent to those available to the general public.

Release and Resettlement

When prisoners are released, they receive support to help them settle back into society. This includes accommodation support, financial assistance and employment advice.


Through this guide, we hope to have provided a concise yet comprehensive overview of the UK prison system. Remember, each prison has its own set of rules and protocols, which are guided by the overarching system highlighted in this guide.

What is the cheapest way to call from Prison?

It is by far cheaper to call landline numbers - however landlines are becoming less common in homes & it is by far more convenient to call your loved ones mobile incase you are calling when they aren't at home. Our call packages gives you the best of both worlds - landline call pricing, but the prisoner can call you on your mobile!

Is it cheaper to call a landline from prison?

Most definitely - YES! Mobiles can cost over 25p per minute, the precious phone credit runs out very fast! Our unlimited prison calls package saves money whilst adding the convenience of being able to pickup calls on your mobile.
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