Inspections guidance

Establishments are inspected at least once every five years, inspections are split into different categories.

Some inspections are announced and the prison is informed in advance of the visit. Others are unannounced and the inspection team visits without notifying the establishment in advance. Inspectors have the right to carry out inspections and cannot be refused entry by the establishment.

Full Inspections

The Inspectorate collects information from many sources, including the people who work there, the people who are imprisoned or detained there, and visitors or others with an interest in the establishment.

Full follow-up inspections

Follow-up inspections are unannounced and proportionate to risk. In full follow up inspections inspectors assess progress made and undertake in-depth analysis.

Short follow-up inspections

Short follow-up inspections are also unannounced and conducted where the previous full inspection and our intelligence systems suggest that there are comparatively fewer concerns. Inspectors focus on progress made and note any additional areas of concern.


Inspection framework (PDF 0.15mb)

Guide for inspectors (PDF 0.23mb)

Guide for inspectors - appendices (PDF 0.19mb)

Guide for writing inspection reports (PDF 0.24mb)

HM Inspectorate of Prisons


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