Who Decides What Prison You Go To?

Who Decides What Prison You Go To?

Who decides what prison you go to? When someone is sentenced to prison in the UK, one of the key questions that arise is: Who decides what prison you go to? The assignment of a prison is a complex process, governed by multiple factors and involving various agencies. In this guide, we delve into the procedures, guidelines, and criteria that are considered in determining which prison an individual will be sent to in the UK.


The Initial Reception Prison

After sentencing, the first stop for most prisoners in the UK is the nearest reception prison. This is usually a short-term arrangement where the prisoner’s security category, type of offense, and length of sentence are assessed.

Who Decides What Prison You Go To?

Factors that Determine Prison Assignment

Several factors are taken into consideration when deciding the prison to which a convict will be sent. These factors include:

  • Security Category: Ranging from Category A (highest security) to Category D (lowest security).
  • Nature of the Crime: Violent offenses may result in higher-security placements.
  • Length of Sentence: Longer sentences often require specialized facilities.
  • Healthcare Needs: Medical or psychiatric considerations can affect placement.
  • Availability of Programs: Some prisons offer specific rehabilitation or training programs.

Who Decides What Prison You Go To?

Agencies Involved

The primary body responsible for prison assignments in the UK is Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), which works in collaboration with the judiciary and other law enforcement agencies.

The Role of Reviews

Prison assignments are subject to periodic reviews, which consider good behaviour, participation in rehabilitation programs, and other factors that might warrant a change in the prison assignment or security category.

Can You Appeal the Decision?

Yes, it is possible to request a review of the prison assignment, although this is generally difficult and rare. Legal advice is strongly recommended for anyone considering this.


Understanding who decides what prison you go to in the UK can help demystify what is often a complex and stressful process. While multiple factors and agencies are involved, the primary aim is always to ensure that the prison assignment aligns with both the needs of the individual and the safety of the public.

How do you know what prison someone is in HMP