Her Majesty's Prison Service

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Cleland House (now demolished), the former head office of H.M. Prison Service

Her Majesty's Prison Service is a part of the National Offender Management Service of Her Majesty's Government tasked with managing most of the prisons within England and Wales. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own prison services: the Scottish Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Prison Service, respectively.)

The Director-General of the National Offender Management Service, currently Michael Spurr, is the administrator of the prison service. The Director-General reports to the Secretary of State for Justice and also works closely with the Prisons Minister, a junior ministerial post within the Ministry of Justice.

It has its head office in Clive House.[1] It formerly had its head office in Cleland House in the City of Westminster, London.[2]

The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda's HM Prison Service (renamed the Department of Corrections in 2002) was a separate organisation.


In 2004, the Prison Service was responsible for 130 prisons and employed around 44,000 staff. As of 2009 the number of prisons had increased to 131, including 11 privately owned prisons.[3]

The Service's statement of purpose states "Her Majesty's Prison Service serves the public by keeping in custody those committed by the courts. Our duty is to look after them with humanity and help them lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release." The Ministry of Justice's objective for prisons seeks "Effective execution of the sentences of the courts so as to reduce re-offending and protect the public".

Population statistics for the Service are published weekly. Statistics available for 4 July 2014 showed the service housed 85,428 prisoners: 81,429 males and 3,936 females.[4]

The over 60's are the fastest growing age category and Professor David Wilson, of Birmingham City University is concerned that there is no strategy to deal with them.[5]


Early in 2004, it was announced that the Prison Service would be integrated into a new National Offender Management Service later in the year.

Rationalisation of the prison management system is currently underway with the advent of the Titan Prison concept.

Prison officers

Recent development

Historically, uniformed prison staff were under the supervision of a small number of very senior and experienced officers who held one of three Chief Officer ranks; however, reorganisation in the 1980s termed "A Fresh Start" saw these Chief Officer ranks abolished, and their role taken by junior grade prison Governors.

From 2000 onwards, as part of a process to increase accountability within the prison service, all operational officers have been assigned a 3-digit unique identification number, worn on all items of uniform (typically as an embroidered epaulette) along with the 2-digit LIDS identification code of the specific prison or institution. From 2010 onwards, attempts were made to replace the Principal Officer rank with non-uniformed junior managers (Developing Prison Service Managers - DPSM), although this process was neither entirely successful nor fully implemented.

Further restructuring in 2013 named 'Fair & Sustainable' saw the remaining historic ranks and rank insignia phased out in favour of a new structure, and simple stripes on uniform epaulettes to indicate grades.

Powers and structure

Public sector prison officers (historically known as warders) have "all the powers, authority, protection and privileges of a constable" whilst acting as such.[6]

Although the system is flexible in operation, most Prison Officers work in small teams, either assigned to a specific duty, or providing one shift of staff for the supervision of a particular wing within a prison. Each such team is led by a Supervising Officer. There will be an overall manager of the wing with the title of Custodial Manager. Custodial Managers (CM) will have direct management of the wing and the line management of the Officers and Supervising Officers (SO).

Her Majesty's Prison Service rank insignia
Historic rank insignia in use until 1987
Rank Prison Officer Senior Prison Officer Principal Prison Officer Assistant Chief Officer Chief Officer
(Grade II)
Chief Officer
(Grade I)
File:Prison historic 01.jpg Prison historic 02.jpg File:Prison historic 03.jpg File:Prison historic 04.jpg Prison historic 05.jpg Prison historic 06.jpg
Rank insignia from the "A Fresh Start" initiative, 1987
Rank Prison Officer Senior Officer Principal Officer
to 2000
File:UK-hmps-oa.jpg File:UK-hmps-ob.jpg File:UK-hmps-oc.jpg The Chief Officer grades were abolished
and replaced with junior Governor grades.
Revised rank insignia with LIDS code and unique identification numbers, introduced in 2000
Rank Operational Support Grade (OSG) Prison Officer Senior Officer Principal Officer (Specialist Officer)
to 2013
Prison interim 01.jpg Prison interim 01.jpg File:Prison interim 02.jpg File:Prison interim 03.jpg Additionally authorised letters could be used
to indicate specialist functions:
DH - dog handler
W - works officer
H - healthcare officer
Current rank insignia introduced from April 2013
Rank Operational Support Grade (OSG) Prison Officer Supervising Officer Custodial Manager (Specialist Officer)
Prison service 01.jpg Prison service 02.jpg Prison service 03.jpg Prison service 04.jpg Specialist Officers have role identification
letters on their epaulettes:
DH - dog handler
W - works officer
H - healthcare officer

Specialist roles

In addition to uniformed officers carrying out security and custodial roles, a number of specialist functions exist within every prison. Some are assigned to uniformed Specialist Officers, whilst others are carried out by non-uniformed support staff.

Before the "Fresh Start" initiative of the mid-1980s there were more uniformed specialist officer roles, including dog handlers, works officers, hospital officers, catering officers, physical education officers, and officer instructors. Today the uniformed Specialist Officer roles include dog handlers (DH), works officers (W), and healthcare officers (H) who are the successors of the former hospital officers. The roles of the former catering officers, PE officers, and officer instructors are today taken by non-uniformed caterers, PE instructors, and educational/vocational instructors.[7]

Other key non-uniformed roles within the staff of a prison include chaplains, psychologists, and administrators.[7]

Private prisons

The Prison Service does not manage all prisons within England and Wales. Currently there are nine prisons that have been designed, constructed, managed and financed (so-called DCMF prisons) privately. In addition, three prisons that were built with public money are managed by private companies under contract. During 2012 one further prison opened under private sector management: HMP Oakwood (Featherstone 2), built by the public sector. Private prisons are subject to scrutiny by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in a similar manner to prisons run by the public Prison Service.

Proposed legislation

In January 2008, the Home Secretary announced that the government was to introduce legislation to remove the right for Prison Officers in England and Wales to take strike action.[8]

Independent Monitoring Board

Every prison and immigration removal centre has an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), formerly known as a Board of Visitors. Members of the IMB, who are volunteers, are appointed by the Home Secretary and act as 'watchdogs' for both the Minister of Prisons and the general public, to ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained.[9]

HMPS in the National Offender Management Service

On 6 January 2004, then Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that the Prison Service, together with the National Probation Service, is to be integrated into a new National Offender Management Service. The Service, Blunkett said, will be "a new body to provide end-to-end management of all offenders".

On 1 April 2008, NOMS was reorganised as part of a shake-up in the Ministry of Justice. The headquarters and regional structures of NOMS and HMPS were merged into a single HQ structure with Phil Wheatly as Director General of NOMS. This brings HMPS and the National Probation Service under a single headquarters structure for the first time ever.[10]

On 1 June 2011, NOMS was merged with the wider MoJ (HMCTS etc.) to form one organisation. Although HMCTS and NOMS are working under different terms and conditions, they are now managed together and HR is dealt with by one Shared Service centre. A review of terms and conditions for all MoJ staff, including NOMS, is currently in progress with view to bringing all staff terms and conditions across NOMS and HMCTS in line.

See also

Her Majesty's prison service collection is held at the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham.


  1. "HM Prison Service Headquarters". insidetime & insideinformation. 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Contact us". HM Prison Service. Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2010. HM Prison Service Headquarters Cleland House Page Street London, SW1P 4LN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Performance ratings". hmprisonservice.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Prison population figures: 2013". justice.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Doward, Jamie. "Rolf Harris leaves behind gilded lifestyle for vulnerable prison unit". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Prison Act 1952 (Section 8)". legislation.gov.uk. 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Working for HMPS". UK Government. Retrieved 31 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Ministers seek prison strike ban". BBC News. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Independent Monitoring Boards". imb.org.uk. 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "National Offender Management Service". justice.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links