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Tag: Prison

The hopelessness of IPP sentences

At the start of 2020 there were 2,223 people in prison serving IPP sentences, despite the fact that they’d been abolished in 2012. A sentence with no end date is brutal and many have taken their own lives due to the hopelessness of their situation. Susan was given a minimum term of 15 months but was still in prison 11.5 years later.

I was sentenced to five years in prison following my involvement in a tax fraud. I’d never been in any trouble with the police prior to this and the conviction came about due to some really bad business decisions I’d made. However, whatever the reason I’d still broken the law and it was right that I was punished.

Nobody can imagine what prison is going to be like, any insight we have we get from TV dramas or documentaries. I was 38 when I went to prison and, as I waited to be ‘processed’ I remember being absolutely terrified. I knew I’d be out in 2.5 years but I didn’t know how I was going to cope and I was convinced that I’d never laugh or smile during that time.

The reality was very different. If you keep your head down and do your time, then it’s bearable. The boredom and being away from my family were the worst things but I made some incredibly special friends; friends that I’m still in contact with to this day. We supported each other and although we all experienced bad days when the tears came quickly and easily we also laughed a lot.

One of the biggest eye openers for me was the amount of young women who were in prison as a result of issues with drink, drugs or their mental health. For some, prison was a godsend, a chance to get clean, to get help and to start seeing hope for the future. Sadly for others, prison meant that their mental health deteriorated even more and self-harming was pretty common place.

It was in prison that I first came across IPP sentences – Imprisonment for Public Protection. These are a form of indeterminate sentence with a minimum jail term but no maximum term. I regularly heard girls refer to them as an ‘In Prison Permanently’ sentence which perhaps gives you some idea of how long people end up staying in prison.

I met Susan (not her real name) on my second day when we were queuing up for dinner. Her first words were:

Don’t get the beef stew, it’s worse than dog food.

I didn’t see Susan again for several weeks. She later told me that she’d been put in the ‘Seg’ (the Care and Separation Unit) after she’d ‘kicked-off’ at an officer. Rows and time in the ‘Seg’ were regular occurrences for Susan as were incidents of self-harming which often led to us all being locked in our cells whilst she received medical attention.

Four months into my sentence and I got a job as a wing cleaner along with Susan. We both worked hard and got through the work quickly which gave us a chance to have a tea-break. It was then, when there were just the two of us that I started to see the real Susan. She told me that she’d been given an IPP sentence with a minimum term of 15 months, but she’d already been in prison for 3.5 years and wouldn’t be released until the Parole Board gave their permission. She’d been addicted to drink and drugs and already had several convictions for shoplifting, possession and violence before her IPP sentence but she was clean and was starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

During those tea breaks we spoke about everything and I came to know a bright, funny, intelligent young woman with the same hopes and dreams as anybody else her age.

2.5 years on as I was preparing for release Susan was still in prison. However, she was a lot less positive about the future and her release and she’d started spending a lot more time alone in her cell becoming increasingly isolated.

I wrote to her many times after I’d left prison but never received a response and after 18 months or so, I gave up trying – I wish I hadn’t.

Five years after leaving prison and my life was ticking along nicely. I’d got a job which offered me plenty of opportunity to work overtime and I’d started putting some money into a savings account so I could go on holiday. Having decided on a destination I started trawling the internet for deals when a BBC news item caught my eye. Something about IPP sentences.

I clicked on the link and halfway down the page were three photographs of three young women; one of them was Susan. As I began to read I discovered that the story was about the impact of IPP sentences on women but shockingly, all three women in the photographs had taken their own lives.

Susan’s mum had been interviewed by the journalist and explained how after being in prison for 11.5 years, her daughter had given up all hope of ever being released and couldn’t bear the thought of spending one more year in prison. She’d killed herself in her cell on 31 December.

I couldn’t believe that the bright, funny, intelligent young woman I’d known had felt so abandoned and let down by the system. Susan’s mum couldn’t have put it better when she said:

To live without hope is to cease to live.

By Denise (name changed to protect identity)

Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below.
  • Discuss – There are some interesting discussions on this issue on our online forum

Winning my battle for voluntary Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL)

Whilst serving the final year of her sentence at an open prison in Kent, Karen was volunteering at Unlock as a helpline advisor when the prisons interpretation of a new ROTL policy framework saw all voluntary work placements revoked.

This article originally appeared on The Prison Reform Trust website and is reproduced with permission and thanks.

The Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) recently upheld my complaint after HMP East Sutton Park stopped voluntary work for all residents in October 2019, allowing only paid work placements. I had thoroughly enjoyed my voluntary job as a telephone helpline advisor with the charity Unlock for 10 months and would have happily continued it until release, but this was not to be. As a woman nearing retirement age, I was not seeking paid work on release.

It took five months to go through the whole complaints process. I had complained to the prison staff and governor, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), as well as writing to the Head of the Women’s Estate. All returned my complaint forms. So, I asked the PPO to investigate after feeling ignored by the internal prison complaints system.

In March 2020 the PPO upheld my complaint, agreed I deserved an apology and the volunteer role should be re-instated. Covid-19 delayed the reinstatement of the job, before my actual release. I received a written apology from the Governor (who is actually responsible for 2 women’s prisons, so very stretched). I appreciate the apology – and since my verdict, East Sutton Park’s local ROTL policy has been amended to allow voluntary work.

The new ROTL policy framework is meant to enable better rehabilitation and allow more women access to ROTL, but residents continue to struggle to get placements approved. As well as feeling under constant threat of withdrawal of ROTL at any time.

So what lessons should be learned from my experience? Firstly, I’d like to thank both the Prison Reform Trust Advice and Information team and Prisoners’ Advice Service for believing in me and helping to handle the complaint, as it can often feel as though most women prisoner’s complaints are ignored. I had to be very determined and couldn’t have done it on my own.

I entirely believe that officers – and governors – should receive special training for managing female prisoners as their needs are so different than the typical male prisoner. Blanket policies and approaches for women and men are not appropriate. From my own experience, this is especially important for older women. I am now over 60 years old, and still a human being with a life that matters.

Please do pursue complaints with the PPO if you feel your complaint is ignored by the prison. Don’t give up if you have a valid complaint.

By Karen (name changed to protect identity)

A comment from Unlock

Following a long association with HMP East Sutton Park, we were disappointed to see the government’s new ROTL policy being implemented in this way. Although it remains the primary objective of many women to find paid work, for some this is simply not the case.

Karen’s imminent retirement was a valid reason for her not seeking paid work and for those coming to the end of long sentence, or who have little work experience, voluntary work can be a valuable stepping stone back into the community.

Education in prison

This is for information only.  We are unable to provide advice on this.


Making use of your time in prison is absolutely critical. Trying to get on in life with a criminal record is by no means easy, and so you have to try and make use of your time as effectively as possible whilst you are in prison.

This page will hopefully provide you with some useful information and advice on options available whilst in prison in terms of education.

Basic Skills

Education in prison is a mixture of specialist provision and mainstream provision.

All prisons will have an OLASS provider, who primarily provide basic key skills level 1 & 2. A list of the current providers for each region and each prison within that region, can be downloaded here.

Most prisons will also have selection of NVQ’s available. These may be operated by the specific OLASS provider, or may sit within a different area of the prison. You should speak to the prison about what specific courses and qualifications they have to offer.

Careers advice

The National Careers Service launched on 5th April 2012. It offers independent and impartial information and advice on learning and work.

The new service will include provision in the prison estate and replaces its predecessor, the Careers, Information and Advice Service (CIAS).

Visit or call 0800 100 900


Open University, Higher Education and Distance Learning

The processes surrounding Open University (OU), Higher Education and Distance Learning are set out in PSI 32/2012.

This covers areas such eligibility for programmes, funding, transfers (and leaving study) as well as internal matters such as risk management and maintaining records.

There is a useful guide by the Prisoners Education Trust (designed for prison and National Careers Service staff but equally as useful for individuals directly) on Distance Learning. You can download it here.

If you are interested in studying with The Open University, ask your Education Department for a prospectus – the OU offer general and subject specific prospectuses – or you can look at the leaflet Courses for Prisoners. The OU have a specific prospectus/guide for learners in prison. The 2016/2017 version is available on their website. The ‘Offender Learning’ section more broadly contains some useful information.

Many prisons host information and advice sessions where prospective students can view course materials and prospectuses. It may also be possible to speak to an OU adviser about your future study plans. If you are new to university study you may wish to study one of the preparatory Openings courses. These courses are designed to introduce new students to study, or to act as a refresher for those who have not studied for some time. Once you have decided on an area of interest, your Education Department will advise you about the suitability and availability of courses in that area and help you complete the necessary paperwork. All study must be approved by your Prison Governor and you will be advised on your application by Education Department.

Funding your studies

If you are a new student you may be able to get funding from the Prisoners’ Education Trust or from another charity. Please note: Unlock are not able to provide financial assistance. It may also be possible for you or a third party to pay your course fees via the prison. Please discuss this with your Education Department if you would like to explore this option.

For further advice and information (including course start dates), please speak to a member of your prison’s Education Department.

Useful Organisations

Prisoners Education Trust provides access to broader learning opportunities for prisoners, to enhance their chances of building a better life after release. They do this through a grants programme which assists over 2,000 prisoners each year to study distance learning courses in subjects and levels not available in prison. They also provide advice and support, and they make the case for improving policy and practice.

Haven Distribution has been assisting prisoners since 1996 by purchasing educational books for those who wish to use their time in custody effectively, through the pursuit of lifelong learning.

Open University delivers higher education courses to people in prison.

Learning and Work Institute encourage all adults to engage in learning of all kinds.

Understanding your licence conditions


Often, with hindsight, people released from prison say that they thought prison would be the hard bit, when in fact it was after prison that they really started encountering problems.

Being released from prison can be a daunting experience. Being released on licence can be even worse.

Given the way that the current legislative/sentencing regime operates, most people being released from prison are released in advance of the point that they were sentenced to serve by the judicial system. This means that there is a large number of people being released from prison “on licence”.

For additional information about supervision in the community after release from prison see here.

We are unable to provide specific legal advice around your own situation, i.e. when your licence should end, when you can be recalled, how you can be recalled, etc.

Licence conditions

If you were sentenced to more than 12 months in prison,but less than four years, you may be released early on licence.

You will also have a licence if you’re out of prison on a home detention curfew (on a tag). Being on licence means that you are still serving a prison sentence but you can live in the community instead of being in prison. Whilst you are on licence, there are rules you must follow. How long these rules apply for depends on the length of your sentence. If you break the rules, you’ll have to go back to prison (be recalled).

Who determines standard determinate sentence licence conditions?

The Parole Board is no longer involved in imposing licence conditions. Governors now have responsibility for including any additional conditions though these must be from the approved list and recommended by Probation. If Probation want to add a condition not listed or a governor is concerned about the need for additional conditions they must seek advice from the Public Protection Unit. The licence is prepared by Custody/Discipline office and should be explained to you at least one week before release.

What if I refuse to sign the licence?

The licence remains lawful irrespective of whether you sign it. If you refuse to sign it, the governor will sign to confirm the conditions have been read out and explained. A copy is given to you on release and further copies are kept on your records at the prison and sent to the police.

How can I challenge my licence conditions?

A complaint about the necessity or proportionality of additional licence conditions imposed can be considered by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. You will first have to complain internally through Prison/Probation.

Are life licence conditions different?

Life sentence conditions are set by the Parole Board but are very similar to the standard conditions. Additional conditions can also be imposed and again are likely to be similar to those on standard determinate sentences.

As a lifer, will I be on licence for ever?

Although the life licence remains in force and you are liable to recall for the rest of your life, you can apply to the Secretary of State (via request to Probation) and request that, as the conditions are no longer necessary, they are cancelled. The supervision or reporting restrictions normally remain in force for around 4 years, though this can be up to 10 years for people convicted of sexual offences, and can remain in force for longer or shorter periods depending on your own case. The Secretary of State will normally refer the case to the Parole Board before cancelling the supervision requirements. Even where there are no longer any supervision requirements you can be recalled for committing other offences etc

Useful resources

Licences and licence conditions (Prison Service Instruction 12/2015) – This explains the various conditions that can be attached to a licence.

Standard conditions of licence

The Criminal Justice (Sentencing) (Licence Conditions) Order 2005 (Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 648) below sets out the standards conditions. An explanatory note for the SI is also available.

(1) The conditions set out in paragraph (2) are the standard conditions prescribed for the purposes of section 250 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

(2) The prisoner must-

(a) keep in touch with the responsible officer as instructed by him;

(b) receive visits from the responsible officer as instructed by him;

(c) permanently reside at an address approved by the responsible officer and obtain the prior permission of the responsible officer for any stay of one or more nights at a different address;

(d) undertake work (including voluntary work) only with the approval of the responsible officer and obtain his prior approval in relation to any change in the nature of that work;

(e) not travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man without the prior permission of the responsible officer, except where he is deported or removed from the United Kingdom in accordance with the Immigration Act 1971 or the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 [See Article 3 Explanatory note];

(f) be of good behaviour, and not behave in a way which undermines the purposes of the release on licence, which are to protect the public, prevent re-offending and promote successful re-integration into the community;

(g) not commit any offence.

As well as these standard rules, your probation officer might have recommended extra conditions, like not making contact with certain people or not living at the same address as children. Your licence will say what the extra conditions are. If you have to miss an appointment with your probation officer, it’s important to be able to show them proof of the reason. For example, if you are ill, get a doctor’s note. Examples of conditions are listed below:

(1) Conditions of a kind set out in paragraph (2) are prescribed for the purposes of section 250(2)(b)(ii) and (4) (b) (ii) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

(2) The conditions are those which impose on a prisoner:

(a) a requirement that he reside at a certain place;

(b) a requirement relating to his making or maintaining contact with a person;

(c) a restriction relating to his making or maintaining contact with a person;

(d) a restriction on his participation in, or undertaking of, an activity;

(e) a requirement that he participate in, or co-operate with, a programme or set of activities designed to further one or more of the purposes referred to in section 250(8) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;

(f) a requirement that he comply with a curfew arrangement;

(g) a restriction on his freedom of movement (which is not a requirement referred to in sub-paragraph (f));

(h) a requirement relating to his supervision in the community by a responsible officer.

(3) For the purpose of this article, “curfew arrangement” means an arrangement under which a prisoner is required to remain at a specified place for a specified period of time which is not an arrangement contained in a condition imposed by virtue of section 37A(1) [See Article 3 Explanatory note] of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Act or section 250(5) of the Act.

You can apply to your probation officer to change your conditions. For example, if a curfew would mean that you can’t take up a suitable job, the hours of your curfew could be changed.

Supervision and support whilst on licence

You should be allocated a supervising probation officer who will supervise you on release. The supervising officer must ensure that a first appointment is arranged for the day of release (or next working day).

It is stated in PSO 4700 that the supervising probation officer has to ensure that arrangements are made for weekly contact for the first four weeks following release. In addition one contact has to be a visit to the home address within 10 days of release. Contact should comprise a minimum of fortnightly for the second and third months following release and thereafter monthly.


You won’t be considered for early release until you have a suitable address. This could be with friends or family or at a hostel. You might get help from the council to pay for your accommodation. You aren’t allowed to move without permission from your probation officer.


You aren’t allowed to take a job unless your probation officer approves of it. There are rules about declaring your criminal record when you apply for a job. For some jobs, such as working with children, disabled people or other vulnerable people, you’ll always have to declare all your criminal convictions.

It is stated in the Lifer Manual that the supervising probation officer must consider advising certain third parties of the nature of the offence and implications of the supervision process including conditions. In the case of partners, employers, educational providers and accommodation suppliers the presumption is in favour of disclosure. The preferred approach is for the licensee to disclose this information themselves.


There is a presumption in favour of disclosure by probation to partners of the licensee.


The prison isn’t responsible for your healthcare if you’re serving your sentence in the community. Unless getting treatment is one of your conditions, it’s up to you to get any healthcare you need. When you leave prison, it’s a good idea to register with a GP.

Travelling abroad whilst on licence

You have to get permission to travel abroad, and all people on licence face restrictions on travelling abroad whilst on licence supervision in the community. We have put together some information for people in this situation within our section on travel abroad.

If you break the rules – Recall

You can be sent back to prison if you break the rules.

First of all, your probation officer will look at your case. They might give you a warning or they might decide you should go back to prison. If they think you should go back to prison, they’ll ask the Ministry of Justice to order you to return to prison. This decision can be taken very quickly – in emergency cases, the decision can be taken within two hours. You’ll be arrested and taken straight to prison. This would usually be your local prison, not necessarily the one you were released from.

If you committed another criminal offence while you were out on licence, you’ll go to court for that offence. If you’re found guilty, the new sentence will be added on to your old sentence.

If you’re sent back to prison for breaking your conditions, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. You might get Legal Aid.

A licence can be revoked at any time and the licensee recalled to prison by the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the parole board. If the licence is revoked, the licensee is immediately recalled to prison to continue her life sentence. The licensee must be informed of the reasons for the revocation of the licence and has the right to make representations to the Parole Board in an oral hearing.

In deciding whether to recommend the recall of a lifer the Parole Board should consider:

  1. whether the licensee’s continued liberty would present a risk to the safety of the public and if the licensee is likely to commit further imprisonable offences;
  2. the extent to which the licensee has failed to comply with the conditions of the life licence and otherwise failed to cooperate with the supervising officer;
  3. whether the licensee is likely to comply with the conditions of the licence and supervision if allowed to remain in the community.

The Parole Board take account of the supervising officer’s recommendation as to whether the licensee should remain on licence.

Problems if you’re sent back to prison

You may have problems if you’re sent back to prison, for example:

  • there’s a delay before the prison gets information about you
  • you don’t how long you’ll have to stay in prison. However, you should be given an information pack explaining how to appeal to the Parole Board
  • if you’re not sent back to the same prison, you may not know how the prison works. However any differences between the prison where you used to be and your current prison should be explained to you
  • you may lose your right to Housing Benefit after 13 weeks of being back in prison.

If you aren’t sure why you’ve been taken back to prison or if you have any other problems, get specialist advice.

Other information

In order for the conditions to be lawful they must be both necessary and proportionate to the needs of protecting the public and preventing  re-offending. Necessary means that no other means of managing a particular risk is available or appropriate; and proportionate means that the restriction on the offender’s liberty is the minimum required to manage the risk.

Licence conditions are not designed to be punitive, and are designed for risk management and public protection purposes, see R (on the Application of Carman) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] EWHC 2400 (Admin). Further, they are subject to the scrutiny of the Administrative Court by way of Judicial Review due to the principles of reasonableness, necessity and proportionality.

Further, they may infringe an offender’s Human Rights and the most typical is their right to a private and family life pursuant to Article 8 (1) ECHR. The State is entitled to interfere with Article 8 rights in accordance with Article 8(2), so long as it is in pursuance of legitimate aims, but only if reasonable and proportionate to those aims.

Thus, providing the proposed conditions correspond with a legitimate purpose, any corresponding interference with the Claimant’s Article 8 rights will be justified so long as that interference is reasonable and proportionate to the stated Purpose. Once again these issues can be resolved in the Administrative Court. If an offender breaches the terms of their licence, they render themselves liable to be returned to prison and will not be released unless the Parole Board directs it. The power to recall lies with Probation Service therefore it is essential that the conditions in place are necessary, proportionate to manage risk.


Working for an outside employer while still in prison

Aim of this page

This page aims to summarise the Prisoners’ Earnings Act 1996 (PEA) which is detailed in Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 76/2011. It has been written for people in prison who are currently undertaking paid work in the community, and for those who may be doing so in the future.

It also sets out the process of deductions that will be made by HMPPS on behalf of the Prison Governor, which will then be paid to Victim Support.

It’s part of our information on leaving prison.

Why is this important?

If you’re already undertaking paid work whilst in prison or aim to do so at some time in the future, then it’s important to understand how much levy will be taken from your wages.

We have developed a Victims Levy Calculator which will help you to establish how much of your earnings will be deducted by the prison and paid to Victim Support.


This Prisoners Earnings Act (PEA) 1996 gave Prison Governors the power, in certain circumstances, to impose a levy on the earnings of those working for an outside employer whilst they are in prison.

The PEA came into force on 26th September 2011 and means that providing you are earning more than £20 net per week (“net” means after you’ve paid any tax, national insurance contributions, court-ordered and child support payments that may be due) any earnings over £20 will be subject to a levy of 40%.

The levy will be paid to Victim Support, a national charity which works in partnership with numerous other such groups, with a view to supporting victims and communities.

Who does this apply to?

The PEA applies to all people in prison who are undertaking paid work in the community. In practice, it generally only applies to those in open prisons but may be applicable to anybody held in closed prisons who are working for outside employers on a regular basis and who earn over the relevant amounts.

However, as it is the responsibility of the Governor to impose a levy, it is open to Governors to decide not to do so where there are very exceptional circumstances, or to reduce the amount deducted. You should speak to the Governor in your prison about the process of getting them to consider any exceptional circumstances you may have.

What would be considered as ‘exceptional circumstances’?

Governors will deal with each application on a case by case basis but ‘exceptional circumstances’ could include:

  • Financial hardship – You would need to show that the imposition of the levy at the rate it is being imposed would lead to you or your family suffering severe financial hardship.
  • Travel costs – For example if the cost of travelling to work is substantial in proportion to your earnings.

Working out the amount of deduction

To work out how much of your wage will be deducted and paid as a Victims Levy, use the Victims Levy Calculator that we have produced.

To illustrate the potential level of deductions, you will find below examples of how this will affect people on different wages. Examples correct as at the 31st March 2017.

How is the money deducted?

Although your employer will provide you with a payslip, you will not be paid directly by them. Your net pay will be paid into a central bank account so that the Shared Services Centre (SSC) can administer the levy on behalf of the Governor. This will be the case even if you earn less than £20 per week “net”.

The SSC will then make a deduction of 40% on any “net” pay above £20 per week, and the remaining balance will be transferred to your outside bank account. The process may take up to 5 days, so you should expect a delay. However, if you are paid by cheque this may mean you could experience a longer delay as the cheque will require clearing before being processed.

The prison will provide you with a monthly statement; which will show you what your net pay was from your employer, how much was taken off by way of the levy, and how much will be transferred into your outside bank account.

To work out how much of your wage will be deducted and paid as a Victims Levy, you can use our Victims Levy Calculator.

What do I need to do?

You will need to ensure that you have an outside bank account set up. If you don’t already have a bank account, your prison should be able to assist you in opening one as many prisons have arrangements in place with local banks.

Once you have a bank account, you will then need to provide the prison with the following details:

  • Name of Bank
  • Name of Account Holder (usually your name)
  • Account Number
  • Sort Code Number

The prison should provide you with a pro-forma to complete to provide this information. Make sure that you give the prison the correct details as any mistakes may cause delays in you receiving your pay.

If you refuse to provide your outside bank details or refuse to set up an outside bank account, you will no longer be allowed to work outside in paid employment. The SSC can pay the money into someone else’s bank account if you ask them to do so, but this is at your own risk.

The prison should have provided your employer with your date of release. However, it’s important that you make them aware of the date and give them your personal bank account details nearer the time. This will ensure that you will receive your pay as usual. Otherwise, your pay may continue to be paid into the central prison account.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Useful links

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

  • HMPPS – Responsible for running prisons and probation services in England and Wales

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on leaving prison
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine
  3. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  4. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Send your feedback directly to us
  2. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  3. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord.

This page is for information only. We are unable to provide advice on this. Comments below have been disabled and will not be published. For reasons why, click here.

This page was last reviewed in August 2017. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating please let us know by emailing the details to

Prison records


Prison Subject Access Request (often referred to as “Prison Records”)

Issued by

Ministry of Justice Data Access & Compliance Unit


To establish what information prisons (including the Governor, security department, education staff and the healthcare department) have on their files about you

What it contains

Details of all personal information which the Prison Service holds on their records about you. This includes details of transfers and parole dossier information along with the activities you were involved in whilst being housed in each of these establishments

How to apply

In writing to the Ministry of Justice Data Access and Compliance Unit

Who can apply for it

You only

Contact details

A: Ministry of Justice, Data Access and Compliance Unit (DACU), Postal Point 10.31, Floor 10, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ


Free. However, they can charge a reasonable fee for administrative costs if they think the request is ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’.

How long it takes

Approximately 40 working days

Where it is sent

To you only

Link to anonymous example

Not available

How to correct inaccurate information

You would need to write to the Data Access and Compliance Unit, highlighting the particular area of the file you take issue with. If you have any further information or documentation which supports your request then this should also be enclosed along with your covering letter. Upon receipt a confirmation letter will be sent, and a letter detailing the outcome will follow

Other information

If you are a serving prisoner you should enclose an authority for the DACU to deduct the £10 fee from your prisoner monies account and sufficient details to enable the DACU to trace your records.  This should include your full name, date of birth, prison number and name of the prison you currently reside in. If you have served a previous custodial sentence you should also provide details of your time in custody relating to this period.  If you are currently in prison, you may be able to make the application internally. More details are available in PSI 44/2014.

If you have been released from prison, you should provide details of your time in custody which should include your full name, date of birth, prison number, dates and name of the prison(s) you were held in.  You will also need to include the relevant fee and ID.

Acceptable forms of ID include photocopies of recent utility bills (not more than 6 months old) or bank statements or photocopies of the photograph page of a passport or driving licence.

If you are requesting personal data on another person’s behalf, you will need to satisfy the above criteria plus include a signed consent from the person who the data concerns.

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