Understanding Prison Recategorisation Process

Prison Info

Going to prison can be a confusing time, and one of the key things to understand is the prison recategorisation process. In the UK, the Ministry of Justice categorises prisons to manage offenders according to the risks they present to the public and the level of security they require. In terms of the prison population, this can vary greatly.

When a person first enters prison, they’re initially put into a Category A prison as a precautionary measure. A comprehensive risk assessment is then conducted to decide their final category placement. The categories are A, B, C and D, with A being the highest and D the lowest security level.

The recategorisation process is important because it will determine many factors, such as the type of prison where the inmate will serve their sentence, the level of security and the rehabilitation programmes available to them. It also helps to ensure that each offender is housed in the most suitable conditions.

The Recategorisation Process

The initial categorisation occurs at the time of sentencing and the inmate’s classification is regularly reviewed.

  • Category A : This category is for those whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. Offenders’ profiles and crimes are often high-profile and serious. Regular reviews are conducted but these prisoners are housed in the highest security prisons.
  • Category B : Prisoners for whom escape should be made very difficult. This will include serious offenders where escape needs to be made very difficult.
  • Category C : Prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who do not have the resources and will to make a determined escape attempt. This generally includes offenders whose crimes are less serious and are looking towards rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • Category D : Open conditions. The category D prison is designated for inmates who can be trusted to serve their sentence with minimal supervision and are unlikely to try to escape. This may be the case for short sentence or approaching release.

Tests for reclassification are regularly conducted with the frequency depending upon the category of the prisoner. For Category A prisoners, the initial classification is reviewed after two months and then at six-month intervals. For Categories B and C, a review takes place annually although a prisoner can apply for an earlier one in certain situations.

The assignment of a prisoner’s security category is influenced by several factors, notably; nature of the crime, length of sentence, risk of absconding, risk to the public if absconded, previous criminal record, prisoners behaviour and compliance whilst in prison.

Appealing against Categorisation decision

In some situations, a prisoner may feel that they have been unfairly categorised and they are entitled to formally appeal against this decision. There are guidelines provided for prisoners who believe they have been unjustifiably placed in a certain category. They should follow a three-step process including Acting Governor review, Area Manager review, and finally Prisons and Probation Ombudsman review.

Understanding the prison re-categorisation process is crucial for both the prisoner and their loved ones. It provides an opportunity for prisoners to work towards their development objectives, as the move to a lower category prison often provides increased opportunities for rehabilitation and the potential for a more comfortable environment.

This article gives a comprehensive understanding of the UK prison recategorisation process but if you still have any unanswered questions or need further clarification, it’s best to reach out to a solicitor or prisoner’s rights advocate.

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