Starting your sentence
Where you’ll be housed in prison
What part of the prison will I be put in?
Working out which part of the prison you should be in is part of the interview and assessment that takes place when you arrive.
Some of the things that will determine where you’re placed are:
- whether you’re classified as high, medium or low security
- whether you’re considered to be “at risk” (that is, at risk of harming yourself or with mental-health issues or serious emotional issues)
- what your health needs are
- your age
- any other relevant needs or concerns the prison has.
It may take around two weeks for your security classification to be finalised. In the meantime you may be put in a holding unit and then transferred to your final unit once your classification is finalised.
If you’re a remand prisoner your cell will be in a separate area from the sentenced prisoners. Usually this will be in a remand unit, where all remand prisoners are kept.
What happens if you’re assessed as “at risk”
If you’ve been assessed as “at risk” (that is, at risk of harming yourself) you’ll be separated from the main prison population and placed in a cell by yourself – this is called “segregation”. You’ll be visited at least twice a day by a doctor or nurse, who’ll make further assessments.
Many prisons have a special “at risk” unit. No glass or sharp objects are allowed in these cells, including TVs and radios. Generally these have a high staff presence and the prisoners in the units are closely monitored.
For more information, see “Discipline and punishments inside prison”
What if I’m worried about my safety?
If you’re worried about your safety you can ask to be separated from the main prison population (“segregated”). This doesn’t mean you’ll be alone all the time, as you’ll probably get to talk and interact with other segregated prisoners.
If you’re worried about your immediate safety, tell the PCO or other prison officer as soon as possible.
Usually if you want to go into segregation the prison staff will arrange this. If they refuse, you can go to your PCO.
If your PCO refuses, you can go to the prison’s inspector. You’ll need to fill out a PCO 1 form; the inspector will come and see you and you can complain to him or her. If the inspector won’t be coming to the prison for some time (it’s common for them to visit prisons only once a month), you can ring them on the prison pay-phone – this is a free call.
What happens to me if I’m under 18 years old?
If you’re under 18 you’ll usually be placed in a “youth unit”, with other prisoners who are under 18. If your prison doesn’t have a youth unit or if there’s no bed available in the youth unit, you may be placed in a segregated adult unit. This may also be because the prison is still assessing exactly what youth unit you’re going to be placed in – this could take one or two weeks.
Can I ask to be separated from other youth prisoners if I’m under 18?
Can I be put in a youth unit if I’m 18 or older?
Can I be put in a cell with another prisoner?
Can any prisoner be required to share a cell?
No. There are strict rules for who can share cells:
- High-security prisoners can’t share a cell together.
- A high-security prisoner and a low-security prisoner can’t share a cell together.
- Prisoners who are assessed as not suitable to share a cell must be placed in a single cell.
- Prisoners under 18 years old can only share with prisoners who are 18 or 19 years old and who the prison has decided are suitable for this.
Can I share a cell with someone from the same gang?
Yes, this could happen. It will depend on your security classifications and your suitability assessments.
Will I see my co-offenders in prison?
Co-offenders (people who committed a crime together) will usually be placed in different units, but not always.
You’re not allowed to share a cell with a co-accused while you’re both on remand.