Transferring Prisons

Why may a prisoner be transferred?

There are many reasons why a prisoner serving his sentence in one prison may be transferred to another within the duration of their sentence. Some of these reasons include:

  • Their security category has changed

  • In order to serve the final weeks of their sentence in a prison nearer their home

  • The prisoner’s sentence plan requires them to complete a course which is not available at the prison they are in, such as drug and alcohol, or anger management schemes

  • They are behaving in a disruptive way

  • Category A prisoners are routinely moved from time to time for security reasons

  • For their own safety if they are being bullied within the original prison

  • If their main visitor has a medical problem making visits impossible.

  • If they no longer need to be kept in such a high security facility, i.e. transferred to open prison conditions

Can a prisoner request a transfer?

Under UK law, a person sent to prison can be held in any prison. A prisoner has no legal right to request which prison they want to serve their sentence in. A prisoner does not have any legal right to be transferred to a prison of their choice.

A prisoner may apply to be transferred to a different prison, but whether or not this is granted will be the decision of then Prison Governor, unless the prisoner is a category A prisoner, or a prisoner serving a life sentence, on which the decision will be made by the Prison Headquarters.

The prisoner can request a transfer via the prison request system, or on a form provided by the prison service.

It is usual for transfer requests not to be considered unless the prisoner has served a few months at their current facility.

The prisoner should expect to receive a response within 7 days of application.

Prison location policy

Although the prisoner has no legal right of transfer, the prison service has a location policy that aims to encourage contact between prisoners and their families as well as minimise the harmful effects of removing the prisoner from society.

The prison service also has an obligation to ensure a prisoners safety and wellbeing is maintain, which may include transferring a prisoner to another location if that prisoner is suffering from bullying or harassment by fellow prisoners.

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For more information on:

  • Transfer refusal
  • Can a prisoner be transferred without informing the family?
  • Failure to inform relatives of prisoner transfer
  • Temporary transfers