BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND DEFINITIONS
The main function of a local prison is to serve its
geographical area. It receives prisoners direct from the courts,
either sentenced or remanded awaiting trial or reports. Normally
it accommodates all male remands and male adult convicted serving
up to four-year sentences. Local prisons may also accommodate
females and long-term prisoners. These prisons need to be near
the population centres because prisoners have to go to court,
receive legal visits, and be visited by their families.
Although these prisons deal with a local area, they
are not local prisons in that they do not take remands and do
not receive prisoners direct from courts.
These prisons do not receive long-term prisoners
direct from the courts but rather from local prisons or from the
National Induction Centre. Dispersal prisons form part of the
high security estate and take a specific quota of category A prisoners.
The rest of the population is made up largely of category B prisoners
and a small number of category C or D prisoner. Category B prisons
tend to have a secure perimeter and relatively high staffing levels.
However they offer a less restricted regime than high security
prisons with less internal security. Category C prisons make up
one of the largest parts of the prison estate. They vary enormously
from prison to prison. In general, they have a lower level of
security but often more rules in operation.
These establishments primarily hold adult male long-term
prisoners in open conditions ,preparing them for release. They
also accommodate some short-term prisoners of the lowest security
category. They have less security and prisoners tend not to be
locked up. Prisoners are transferred to open prisons if the Prison
Service is satisfied that they can be trusted not to abscond.
Prisoners are likely to be released regularly on temporary licence
from prisons in order to work.
These were previously categorised as open, closed
or local prisons. However, semi-open prisons have recently been
introduced. Female young offenders are held in prisons with adult
prisoners, although they should be held in designated young offender
Young Offenders Institutions
Young Offenders Institutions hold male prisoners
between 15 and 21 years. There is no equivalent for young female
Categories of Prisoner
Prisoners whose escape would be highly dangerous
to the public or the police or the security of the state, no matter
how unlikely that escape might be, and for whom the aim must be
to make escape impossible.
Prisoners for whom the very highest conditions of
security are not necessary, but for whom escape must be made very
Prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions,
but who do not have the resources and will to make a determined
Prisoners who can be reasonably trusted in open conditions.
The operational capacity of a prison is the maximum
safe, overcrowded capacity of a prison: i.e. the total number
of prisoners that an establishment can hold taking into account
control, security and the proper operation of the planned regime.
It is determined by area managers on the basis of operational
judgement and experience.
Useable Operational Capacity
Useable Operational Capacity of the prison estate
is the sum of all establishments' operational capacity less 1,700
places. This is known as the operating margin and reflects the
constraints imposed by the need to provide separate accommodation
for different classes of prisoner i.e. by sex, age, security category,
conviction status, single cell risk assessment and also due to