Why would a prisoner be transferred?

why would a prisoner be transferred

Why Would a Prisoner Be Transferred: Everything You Need to Know About Prison Transfers in the UK


Understanding the reasons behind prison transfers can be complex and often stressful for inmates and their families alike. Whether it’s for security, rehabilitation, or other factors, knowing why a prisoner might be transferred can help ease some of this stress. In this article, we delve into the various reasons and procedures for transferring prisoners within the UK.

Common Reasons for Prison Transfers

Security Category Changes

One frequent cause for a transfer is a change in a prisoner’s security category. For example, an inmate may be downgraded from a Category B to Category C, which usually results in a transfer to a lower-security facility.

Why would a prisoner be transferred?

Proximity to Home

As an inmate nears the end of their sentence, they may be transferred to a facility closer to their home. This helps ease the reintegration process.

Specific Program Requirements

If a prisoner’s sentence plan involves completing specific programs such as anger management or drug and alcohol rehab, they may be transferred to a facility offering these courses.

Behavioural Issues

Disruptive behaviour can also warrant a transfer, often to a higher-security prison where stricter controls can be applied.

Why would a prisoner be transferred?

Routine Transfers of High-Security Inmates

Category A prisoners are often moved periodically for security reasons.

Safety Concerns

An inmate who faces bullying or harassment may be transferred for their own safety.

Special Circumstances

Transfers can also occur due to medical emergencies, family issues, or at the prisoner’s request to be closer to loved ones.

How are Transfers Conducted?

Transfers can be abrupt and may come with little notice. In most cases, prisoners learn about the impending move when summoned to the wing office and instructed to pack their belongings into large plastic sacks. The items you can take with you may be restricted, and any borrowed items will likely be confiscated.


Prisoners are usually transported to the new facility in a “sweatbox,” a secure transport vehicle. Hence, using toilet facilities beforehand is advised.

On Arrival

Upon reaching the new prison, standard procedures like searches and interviews are conducted. Not all personal items may be allowed in the new prison, and some might be stored away.

What Happens After the Transfer?


You will go through the same orientation process as new inmates and may be allocated a new cell.

Status and Benefits

Your Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) status, phone credits, and other benefits may or may not automatically transfer. Reapplication might be necessary.


Pre-arranged visits at your old prison are generally honoured at the new facility, but informing your visitors of the change in location is your responsibility.

Can a Prisoner Request a Transfer?

Under the UK’s Prison Act of 1952, prisoners can apply for a transfer, but the decision ultimately lies with the prison governor. A response is usually given within seven days, and an appeal can be made if the request is denied.

What if Family Members are Uninformed?

In the case of Category A prisoners or sudden transfers, families might not be immediately informed. However, information can usually be obtained through the allocations unit of the old prison or the Prisoner Location Service in Birmingham.


Understanding why a prisoner may be transferred within the UK can help inmates and their families prepare for such events. Transfers can happen for a multitude of reasons, including changes in security classification, nearing the end of a sentence, or even for the prisoner’s own safety. While the decision to transfer is generally out of the inmate’s control, understanding the process can help make the transition a bit smoother.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Prison Act of 1952?

This is the legal basis that allows the UK’s Prison Service to lawfully confine a prisoner to any prison.

How do I appeal a transfer decision?

Appeals can be lodged through the prison complaints system, and if unsatisfied, a letter can be sent to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman.

Can personal items be transferred?

Items are usually checked, and restrictions may apply depending on the receiving prison’s regulations.

why would a prisoner be transferred