Prisoner’s property

When a person is sent to prison, there may be a number of items they decided to take with them, whether these are financially valuable items or personally treasured and irreplaceable items. For the prisoner, their main concern is that these items are stored safely and securely if they are not in their personal possession.

Is the prison service responsible for a prisoner’s property?

A prisoner’s property is divided into two categories. Firstly you have the stored property, which is kept in the possession of the prison service, and secondly you have all the property that is personally kept with the prisoner at all times, known and referred to as ‘in possession’ property.

If stored property is lost either in reception when it is taken off the prisoner, or through transferring a prisoner, providing this property has been detailed in the prisoner’s property record, then the prison service will be liable for the loss and to pay the prisoner compensation.

It is very unlikely that the prison service will take responsibility for property held in a prisoner’s possession. This is basically due to the fact that the prisoner may give his property to another at any time, may damage his property or misplace his property, upon which the prison service has no input.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, which are based on the law of negligence.

Property in personal possession

The prison service will be liable for a prisoner’s lost property even if it is in his possession if any of the following criteria apply:

  • The prisoner has been moved from his current location to another without any prior warning or time to secure all his property in his personal possession.

  • The prisoner has been temporarily transferee

  • Where the prisoner has absconded or escaped.

A prisoner’s stored property

It is considered that where a prison stores a prisoner’s excess property, this is an exceptional or possibly temporary measure.

A prisoner’s excess property is usually stored at the prison he is in; however, it may be necessary for such excess property to be kept in the National Distribution Centre in Branston.

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For more information on:

  • The amount of property held in a prisoner’s possession
  • Confiscation of a prisoner’s property
  • Valuable property