What crimes are a category A Prisoner?

What crimes are a category A Prisoner

What crimes are a category A Prisoner? In the United Kingdom, prisons and prisoners are classified into different categories based on the level of security required, the risk they pose to the public, and the potential for escape. This system ensures that inmates are managed in an environment appropriate to their risk profile. The categorisation ranges from Category A (the highest) to Category D (the lowest).

Differences Between Prison Categories

  • Category A: These are high-security prisons for inmates who pose the most significant risk to the public, the police, or national security. These prisoners are often those whose escape would be highly dangerous.
  • Category B: These prisons are for those who do not require maximum security but are still a significant escape risk.
  • Category C: Inmates in these prisons cannot be trusted in open conditions but are less of a risk compared to those in Categories A and B.
  • Category D: These are open prisons for prisoners who pose a low risk and can be reasonably trusted not to try to escape.

Who is a Category A Prisoner?

A Category A prisoner in the UK is an individual whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. This categorisation is reserved for those who are considered to pose the greatest threat and includes:

  1. Terrorists: Individuals convicted of severe terrorism-related offences.
  2. Murderers: Particularly those convicted of multiple murders, or murder involving abduction or sexual or sadistic motives.
  3. Serial Rapists: Individuals who have committed multiple rapes or serious sexual offences.
  4. Armed Robbers: Particularly those involved in significant armed robberies or those with a history of using firearms.
  5. Drug Barons: High-level drug traffickers and those involved in large-scale drug distribution networks.
  6. Organised Crime Leaders: Individuals who play a central role in organised crime syndicates.
  7. Other Serious Offences: Certain cases of manslaughter, kidnapping, and attempts to commit the above crimes.

List of Category A Prisons in the UK

Some of the well-known Category A prisons in the UK include:

  • HMP Belmarsh
  • HMP Frankland
  • HMP Full Sutton
  • HMP Long Lartin
  • HMP Manchester (Strangeways)
  • HMP Wakefield
  • HMP Whitemoor

Progressing from a Category A Prison

Progression from a Category A prison to lower categories, such as Category B or C, involves a rigorous assessment process. This process includes:

  1. Behaviour Assessment: Good behaviour and compliance with prison rules are crucial.
  2. Risk Assessment: A reduction in the perceived risk to the public, police, or national security.
  3. Engagement in Rehabilitation Programmes: Active participation in programmes aimed at addressing offending behaviour.
  4. Psychological Evaluation: Assessments to determine changes in mindset or risk factors.
  5. Category Review: Regular reviews by a panel to assess suitability for re-categorisation.


Understanding the categorisation of prisoners, particularly Category A prisoners, is crucial in comprehending the UK’s prison system. Category A prisoners are those who pose the most significant risk, often convicted of grave crimes such as terrorism, murder, and organised crime. The path from being a Category A prisoner to a lower category involves a combination of good behaviour, reduced risk, and active participation in rehabilitation. This system ensures that the security levels within prisons are appropriately matched to the inmates’ risk profiles, maintaining safety and order within the prison system and the wider community.