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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 8 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
Prison Prisoners Crime Legal Convicted

Anyone convicted of a crime in the UK, or being held on remand pending trial, will not be able to avail themselves of the full extent of the rights currently on the law books, or protected by the European Court of Human Rights. However, this does not mean that they become sub-human or less deserving of respect and dignity than anyone else, it just means that they are subject to certain restrictions.


Upon arrival in prison you will be searched for any items that are not permitted in the prison, such as weapons or drugs etc. Any cash that you are holding will be confiscated and placed into a special account for your use. This may all seem a bit harsh but you need to bear in mind that the prison system is not designed to be a holiday-camp, recent headlines notwithstanding.

Each prisoner is required, as part of their time in Prison, to abide by the rules laid down by the Prison Act 1952 and also to any rules or regulations that cover that particular establishment.

Once you have been searched and assessed you will be allocated a certain category based, in part, on your offence and on your behaviour. The basic regime has the strictest rules and fewer privileges than its more favourable counterparts (the standard or enhanced). Also, again dependant on your particular offence, you may be immediately segregated from the rest of the prison population. Many critics of the prison system would say that this is not necessary; that all prisoners should be together and whatever happens; happens. This would be a breach of one of the most fundamental human rights; protection of the body and respect for dignity.

Contact with Family

It is a breach of the Prison Act to deny a prisoner the ability to contact his family and loved ones. Therefore card or PIN telephones are available in all prisons however, for security purposes, all calls are taped except those to legal counsel, the Samaritans or other similar organisations. In some cases, as a punishment, the Governor may restrict phone use although this is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In addition to phone rights the Prisoners also have the right to send two letters to loved ones; one ‘statutory’ letter and one ‘privilege’ letter. The privilege letter can be stopped as a punishment but the statutory one cannot. All letters coming from inmates of High-security prisons and Category A offenders will be read and possibly censored. This also covers letters to legal counsel, although this is just intended as a measure to ensure that it is actually legal in nature and not a ploy intended to assist the inmate in breaking the rules or committing further offences.

In addition the Governor of the prison, no matter which category, has the power to send back letters sent to inmates if they are too long or if there are too many arriving. This may be a breach of personal freedom but this must be offset with the need to keep order in the prison system.


Make no mistake, no matter what your crime, you will be subject to the Prison Rules while you are a ‘guest of the state’, however many of your basic rights are unchanged. You still have the right to food, protection from assault and access to the courts. What you lose are your civil right to vote and your right to personal freedom, among others.

What we have at the present are basic needs being met in the form of food, housing, work, education, protection and acknowledgement of the family unit.The law is still developing in this area and it may be that further rights are introduced as the law changes; it may also be that rights are removed by necessity or for security reasons. Whether the Rules past, present and future can stand up to the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights is a matter for the Prisoners groups and the Lawmakers but the prison system is its own society and therefore any proposals for change in this area will be the subject of intense debate.

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The prison my grandson is in won’t give him his medication he was prescribed by the doctor at home . Can I appeal this
Hev548 - 8-Oct-19 @ 12:31 PM
My partner was in Hindly and was up on Friday for his poca so they shipped him to Walton he is left with nothing not even a telly and on all day bang up its are baby 1st birthday nxt week he going to miss it and just started taking his first steps. At least they should take his mind of it by giving a telly can they leave you with nothing?
Cathy - 27-Sep-19 @ 10:42 PM
Hi, my boyfriend went to prison 10 days ago and I haven’t heard a thing from him. I’ve been putting money into his account so I know he’s got money to spend. I’ve also emailed him to see how he is but no reply to this either! Does anyone know how long it takes for you to get credit to make phone calls home? My children are so upset as they miss there dad and I just don’t know what to say to them.
Em - 15-Aug-19 @ 9:41 AM
Hi there. My parter is in prison and has been fully commited for 5 months. Im new to all this. Iv tottaly relied on him for everything now hes in there im struggiling to send him in money and i feel terrible. Does anyone know if he gets any money of any sort for his canteen?. How can someone live on 3 meals a day with that tiny portion ive been told about?I feel so hopeless knowing i cant send him money in atm.
Carrie - 13-Aug-19 @ 12:44 AM
My partner has been recalled to jail due to not being back on time for his hdc.. it tuck the police officers 2 and half weeks to come and look for him. He was not in when they came so he handed himself I'm when he got home on the same day.. theybhave added that 2 and half weeks on to his remaining 6 week sentence is this correct. His probation officer didnt tell him as she said she has been off from work so not looked at her emails
Kimj - 9-Aug-19 @ 8:06 AM
Hi there I wondered if somebody could give me some advice my boyfriend was arrested and recalled for criminal damages he received 14 days in prison and £750 compensation to pay he has been in prison for 30 days now.He is currently still in custody because his license was revoked due to this and he is currently on a standard recall he still has until April 2021 on his license will he stay in prison until 2021? Or what are the chances of parole board to order immediate release back on to license? Thanks
Charzi - 4-Aug-19 @ 4:28 PM
Hi my partner has now been away for 6 weeks now, he has requested to put me on his pin over a month ago and they still haven’t done so. At first they stopped him contacting me via letters so I wrote in with a complaint and he got all my letters I had sent him. It is wrong how they have stopped him from speaking to me on the phone there is no reason behind it. Who do I complain to and sort it out cos when I rang they said it’s got to be my partner that sorts it out from inside the prison but he keeps going on about my number being put on the pin and they still ain’t doing nothing. Many thanks
Moo - 17-Jul-19 @ 7:33 AM
Hi my partner got recalled on tuesday 9th july I hear from him on the emergancy pin when he got to the. Prison that night it is now a week later I have not heard a thing from him since. How long does it take for the contacts to go on. I'm a bit worried now.
Jen - 16-Jul-19 @ 7:07 AM
I'm abit worried my partner got 10 weeks for breach of probation he done 5 weeks was out this Tuesday and got recalled back to prison on the Wednesday at midnight no explanation nothing just recalled him back.im just really concerned emailed him and nothing as of yet
Shelly - 6-Jun-19 @ 11:04 PM
The prison has stop me seeing my partner I’m currently pregnant they stopped contact over an argument on the phone there is no orders in place or anything can they do this I’ve not seen him over 3 month I’ve wrote to the governor even sent in a doctors letter
Jenny - 28-May-19 @ 9:16 AM
I removed from the home me and my partner love in because of a argument that was bad enough and I was arrested but no charges were brought agenst me and I still recalled to prison for a standard recall which I was told 28days but I had over 7weeks to do and I was not charge with anything do I have a case because my human rights where broken and I had enough of the prison service
Andy - 24-May-19 @ 9:14 PM
Hi my partner have just gone into prison he is on remand and awaiting trial I am currently in hospital pregnant with our first baby at 32 weeks my waters have broken and waiting on our little girl to show are face anyday she will be a little poorly dose anyone know if my partner will be allowed to come see her due to her being so small and unwell please !???
Lou - 12-May-19 @ 6:26 AM
Hi my boyfriend who has a 5yr restraining order on him because of assaulting me has just got a 12mth sentence for the crime and this restraining order i have forgive him and i want to visit him in the Prison at Cardiff is this possible thanks for your time
Maz - 11-May-19 @ 1:28 AM
was detained by staffordshire police in my house , put in car (without any explanation why), driven to polcie station, they the ttwo police officers where instructed NOT to complete any paperwork...to drive straight to Stoke-on-Trent court and hand me over to them..they did this (still no explation why)at the court put in cell (still no explanation)cuffed and taken up into court( no one identified who they where including who the man dressed as a judge was he was male and old all i know.) i asked one question what am i doing here? Reply from judge : something to do with a court in May. I said " i wasnt in court in may what are you talking about...? Resaponse by judge :your unapologetici sentece you to 28 days in prison remove the prisoner .. (still with no explanation why i was there.) i was then bundled into a prson bus and spent 14 days locked up in m wing at derby prison released still with no explanation... when i eventually got home my 4x4 was gone and the locks changed on my house without my consent i then phoned the police who thenarrested me for breach of non mol,, order at my own house where i lived .. the above is all factual and true not made any of it up... any thoughts oh tried my mp at a cost to me over over £1000.00 having to travel and see himjeramy lefroy(of stafford) said thats a breach of your civil liberties anddid nothing.! Anythoughts...
Cal - 9-May-19 @ 3:45 PM
Hi my son has been sentenced to 27mths, on the 16th April. I initially heard from him through the emergency pin phone system. I havent heard from him in a week now. He is due to move to another prison. I am worries due to him having a long standing Brian injury and has poor short term memory and he lacks capacity. No one will tell me anything, he is 19 years old. I have used 'email the prisoner service', he also has moneys in his account. Where do I stand in getting some further info?
Mushee - 23-Apr-19 @ 11:13 PM
My partner was sentenced on the 14th of March 2019 but the prison he is in dont do anything they are supposed to how can I find out his release date he wants to know so do I because the prison have not given it to him can I contact the court to find out please someone let me know how I can find this out
Mand - 19-Mar-19 @ 8:37 PM
Hi I need help my son has been found guilty to a crime he did not do just wrong place wrong time and is looking at 15.20 years it’s so wrong
Sarahit - 14-Mar-19 @ 11:46 AM
I was in prison for year too long can i claim for that
Maddy - 27-Feb-19 @ 3:21 AM
My boyfriend is on remand in Wandsworth for breach of injunction I'm told because of charge he isn't allowed a pin for the phone so have had no contact... worried sick. Is this not breach of human rights? Also using email a prisoner I have send many and had no response after 4 days... is this right? I'm so worried and confused never been in this situation before! Any advice would be appreciated
Char - 23-Feb-19 @ 8:29 AM
My son has just served 7 n half. 2 days before his realise they video linked him n given him another 24 months?I live in Scotland n he is in Doncaster. Havnt seen him n mega months even yr.disabled.Won’t him in Scottish prison. Please help
DJ - 13-Jan-19 @ 4:26 AM
My son’s release date should of been 4th December 2018,he was released early on tag in July.He was arrested while on tag and recalled in October but with no charges.It has now been over 3 months and still no release date and no parole hearing.
Sandra - 10-Jan-19 @ 11:47 AM
Hi my partner is currently on remand to which he has been since 9th Aug 2018 he had a trial date set for 21jan2019 but has been informed by another inmate on the same charges and case as him that the trial date has been changed to Sep 2019 I was just wondering if anyone knew how long you can be kept held on remand? Thank you
Loulou - 10-Jan-19 @ 9:47 AM
My boyfriend was convicted on the 11/12/18 at guildford crown court for a crime he did not comitt. Now just started a six year sentence I have a few questions if anyone knows the answer to them or advise me on it. 1. How soon can he call or write to me. 2.how can I locate what prison he's in. 3. How soon will I be able to visit him. Thanks Lizzie
Lizzie - 14-Dec-18 @ 8:53 AM
My son was convicted 8yrs ago on joint enterprise. He was also charged with another conviction which he did not commit and he was not charged for. Due to the second charge he in now an A cat and has been for the last 8 years. How can he get off this A cat as he was not convicted for the crime that put him in this categorisation. Plse give info for this
Sammi - 8-Dec-18 @ 7:16 PM
My partner has been convicted of dangerous driving, has been moved into a other prison but they know his coming out what does he have to do now? Wait or what? It's so stupid they have done this, I am worrying about him he doesn't like it in here they are nasty to him and me even when I book a visit their attitude stinks! Also my partner was put on basic for defending himself because a troubled guy tried to stab him! What is this world coming to! I keep on fighting for him! #judgemental people today #
WorriedGirlfriend - 13-Nov-18 @ 4:13 PM
my son has been on remand for one month my main concern is he's had no contact with his solicitor in that time,so he is unable to prepare his defense. the solicitor says they have been unable to get a visit to see him,my understanding is a solicitor has a right to see his client by law.it also is my sons human right to have visits/contact with his solicitor.would i be wrong in thinking my sons rights have be violated,why would his solicitor say they where unable to get a visit
linda - 11-Nov-18 @ 10:28 AM
My son was convicted to 10years and need to 6 due to committed a crime of self-defense. Someone when to stab him and he self-defend. So the court put him in category A to B but the prison still holding him and classify him as A. They alway decline the family to visit him. He can not call his younger brother . The guards aretreting him bad. I don’t know what to do to help him.
Luxe - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:45 AM
My boyfriend had court today in doncaster but i live i dagenham and he orginally is from dagenham he been in and out of jail all hes life hes 24 and never been to a jail up their always gone pentonvilee ir cookham wood when he was younger was just wondering if if he gets sentenced does anyone knkw when he would be aloud to contact me ...
Kobie - 22-Oct-18 @ 2:47 PM
Hello, my dad had an 18 year sentence in 2006 and has done 12 years, 6 more years to go. He is in a Cat C prison. When will he be able to move to Cat D?
WorriedDaughter - 3-Oct-18 @ 5:44 PM
My son has been in prison for 10 years and he was suppose to go to a D cat prison yesterday. He got all his belongings together and said good bye to his inmates and officers then waited in a cell day looking out of the window anxious and excited about leaving when eventually was told the van had left without him. They forgot him. I am not sure what is happening and i wonder what happens next?
worriedmum - 20-Sep-18 @ 10:17 AM
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