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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 28 Oct 2020 | 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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My son is in forest bank he has been there 2 weeks.He is not getting his food write thay dont always give him water for a drink.And thay also are not letting him have a tv like all others.He is in there 24 hours a day not even getting a shower
Rose - 28-Oct-20 @ 7:48 PM
My Partner was Remanded and sent to a prison a week ago, I haven't had any contact with him neither has his mum. Can't get his prisoner number as prison have said it's for him to tell us! We were told to write and send a postal order with his full name and all other details of his and it should get to him. We sent all this a week ago still waiting to hear.Is this normal?? as this is completely new for me.
Kerry - 24-Oct-20 @ 12:37 AM
I read all stories here, some very similar to my situation. Is there any reply?
Moon - 19-Oct-20 @ 10:53 PM
My partner got 7 years and 3 months and has to serve two thirds of his sentence , so he is to serve 4 yearsand 9 months , his release date is 2025 and his rotl date is 2023 so he has to serve 2 years 9 months before he can get to a category d prison , I'm being told you can get category d with 3 years left of your sentence is this correct ? And how would my partner do this , thanks Jess.
Jess - 2-Oct-20 @ 1:03 AM
In response to comment from Jackie - as long as you have his prison number you can send him a same day message on emailaprisoner this is printed and put under his door
Jake - 26-Sep-20 @ 1:14 AM
My son is in hmp gartree I've been waiting for a call off him for nearly 2 weeks it's so unlike him not to contact us I'm going out of my mind with worry as the prison won't tell me anything is there any where I can get help to find out what's going on he has money and letters off us but not contacted any of us
Jackie - 30-Aug-20 @ 3:15 PM
My son is in prison been infor 3 weeks weve not heard from him we have rang every one but no will help .we sent letters emails . Money.But nothing comes back we dont understand. Even been on to his solicitor.But hes not done anything
Rose - 20-Aug-20 @ 7:58 PM
My son is in prison but not heard from him for over a month dispite writing letters and asking prison for information they say they cant tell me anything unless my son gives permission I'm so worried about him as its unlike him not to phone me
Annie - 5-Aug-20 @ 12:25 AM
My husban is in hmp humber they say he is a danger to us because of dv never been charged or arrested for dv had child protection assessment who srt safety plan saying if he would not leave when showing anger i had to call police as if it was reported by neighbours it would be. Ad foe me so agreed to safeguard plan now safeguarding js dismissed all safeguarding issues and signed us off and this included my husband also we are now having release from prison issues due to oasys reports using saftey plan calls to police which was all ruled of with social services
Don - 29-Jun-20 @ 10:28 PM
My son is serving a life sentence and was moved to Swaleside before his Oasys report was finished, he has not been given a sentence plan either. This was just prior to lockdown. He has not had an induction so not been given the opportunity to work. Does anyone know if procedures have been broken or if there is anything that can be done to ensure that these are undertaken?
Harmony - 17-Jun-20 @ 9:47 AM
My boyfriend has ten years left in prison by the time he comes out we will be to old to have a child. I had a health condition that made us out off having a child not knowing he would go to jail obviously but now I am able to have child safely. I have researched and it’s against your human rights act a to stop him having a family but does this apply in the uk? It says the government looks at each case and decides. Then you have he’s sperm and that you can do this on the nhs but you can pay which I’d be more then happy to do. I don’t no where to start with his and I get it’s not going to be a straight forward process. Please help With any advice thank you
N - 10-Jun-20 @ 12:31 AM
My Husband got sentenced november 2018 and got 8 and half years it will be he second year this november. He wants to push for he's cat d but doesn't want it to get rejected what should he do? He has completed he's sentence plan and has never been in trouble.
Sonia - 7-Jun-20 @ 9:05 AM
Hi my daughter is in hmp newhall we recently found out she has underlying fatal health issues she is a victim of historic child abuse which has caused this health issue she has been picked on and bullied by officers for just under a year only reason she went back to prison was she thought she had nowhere to bail too even though police wanted to bail her she should be released she is not a danger she upfront honestly could die in there she is under hallamshire hospital ongoing for life she has done time for thepeople who abused us both yet they are free to wonder street they are a danger to society not her it's been confirmed damage from abuse from a so called family member has affected her nuero heart and neck causing fatal seizures that can lead to coma and death prison messing with her lifesaving meds when her consultant at hospital told them not too I'm so worried bout her she's suffered enough and should never have been in prison no one is listening been to all right Chanel's please we need help on this it's a shoddy justice system that locks up victims of abuse andabusers get off with their crime!!!!?
Vix - 29-May-20 @ 6:51 PM
Hello. Me and my partner had a disagreement which resulted in him assaulting me. I didn’t press charges but police pushed for a dvpo. This resulted in him breaching and then ended up in court. He’s been jailed and I was just wondering if I can still contact him?
Sarahlouise111 - 20-May-20 @ 2:53 PM
Hi my husband was arrested for breach of DVPO police won't tell me were he is I'm going out of my mind with worry he hasn't phoned me or anything I dnt know wat to do . Please help me . Can I phone Walton prison to see if he is there police just keep saying he safe and well not enough for me .
Wifey76 - 24-Feb-20 @ 11:02 PM
My boyfriend was sentenced to 6 years on Friday. I was told he would call me later that evening. I haven’t heard anything from him and neither has his family. We are so worried what can or should I do
Maz - 16-Feb-20 @ 7:11 AM
My bro is in hmp/you doncaster he was victim of attempted rape he had to fight for his life in order not to be raped he was physically assaulted also they are treating him very badly who can I get to help him? I spoke to his probation officer and still nothing who can help him??
Naj71 - 16-Jan-20 @ 3:58 PM
Hi my husband and i was on a closed visit with our 10monthe old son it was our last closed visit as he was put on closed for 3 monthes at the end of the visit everything was fine 2days later my husband got a letter saying he done something inappropriate infront of me and my son and the officer said he did ask my husband on the visit what he was doin & my husband denied everything which is just ridiculous beacuse this did not happen! Now now they have put a Restriction on my baby till they investigate which was 5weeks ago now i have a prison solictor onto it she has sent my husband 2 forms of paperwork and he has not received it but is gettin normal mail from myself clearly the prision is holding this paper work back from him jst wanted to no how long will it take for this restriction to be removed once they find out this officer is lying? he is bein investigated to as my husband and myself have put in a complaint against him
Ss - 7-Jan-20 @ 12:23 AM
Hi, My partner has been in prison for 2 years, he was granted his Cat D but due to on going issues with a POCA & a complaint about the OMU Governor at HMP Wandsworth, this has been revoked.Is there any advice you can offer please, as we cannot afford a lawyer? Zed
Zed - 13-Dec-19 @ 1:37 PM
My husband is in forest bank and I've been writing to him via email a prisoner. All of a sudden his name and number has been took off my account. Can the prison do this and why.
Linz - 6-Nov-19 @ 2:20 PM
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
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