Prisoner categorisation
Produced in partnership with Andrew Sperling of SL5 Legal

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Andrew Sperling of SL5 Legal provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Prisoner categorisation
  • Overarching principles of categorisation
  • Legal framework of categorisation
  • Security categories for adult males serving determinate sentences:
  • Security categories for females and young adult males serving determinate sentences
  • The process of initial categorisation—Category A prisoners
  • The process of initial categorisation—other than Category A or life sentence prisoners
  • Re-categorisation–Cat-A prisoners
  • Subsequent reviews—Cat-A prisoners
  • Process of re-categorisation
  • More...

Prisoner categorisation

Categorisation is the process by which a prisoner’s security category is determined. This affects the type of prison in which they may be held, but it is distinct from the process of allocation. Allocation decisions determine in which particular institution a prisoner will be held.

Although categorisation decisions relate to the management of risk within the prison estate, there are decisions which may impact significantly on a prisoner, not only as to the current level of restriction placed upon their liberty but also as to eligibility for future release on licence.

There are different processes for the categorisation of indeterminate sentence prisoners, women prisoners, young adult males (aged 18–21) and children (under 18) subject to sentences of detention.

Overarching principles of categorisation

The purpose of categorisation is set out in PSI 40/2011:

‘...to assess the risks posed by a prisoner in terms of:

  1. the likelihood of escape or abscond

  2. the risk of harm to the public in the event of an escape or abscond

  3. any control issues that impact on security and good order of the prison and the safety of those within it

and then to assign to the prisoner the lowest security category consistent with managing those risks.’

Prisoners must be categorised objectively according to the likelihood that they will seek to escape and the risk that they would pose should they

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