Regime information for Low Newton Prison

Opportunities for Prisoners:

In providing purposeful activity for prisoners, Low Newton has managed to ensure there is a full range of employment opportunities for them.

  • PITstop where all women are initially assessed regarding their educational and training needs and undertake a health and hygiene course.
  • The Gardens Team maintain and cultivate grassed and planted areas within the prison, plants and shrubs for internal and external use are grown in polytunnels.
  • Prisoners are trained in British Institute of Cleaning Science under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
  • Other work opportunities are provided for prisoners who act as Orderlies to various departments within the prison e.g. Gymnasium, and Reception Unit.


Primary Healthcare is provided by Durham and Chester-le-Street PCT ensuring the services of the NHS are available for dentistry, GUM, CPNs and, when necessary, arranging access to local hospitals for x-ray, clinics or emergency treatments.

Primary Healthcare is supported by Durham and Chester-le-Street PCT ensuring the services of the NHS are available for dentistry, GUM, CPNs and, when necessary, arranging access to local hospitals for x-ray, clinics or emergency treatments.

Other prisoners are trained Listeners for those who need support during difficult times.

Drugs Strategy:

Mandatory random drug testing is in operation at HMP & YOI Low Newton. CARAT's team offers a one to one counselling and relapse prevention course for prisoners with drug problems.


The Catering Department, under a Catering Manager, provides all meals, including special and ethnic diets. Prisoners are allocated to work with the team in this area.

They also cater for special events such as the Cultural Awareness day, Christmas menus and invited guests

Race Equality Action Team:

Low Newton has an active Race Equality Action Team under the direct responsibility of the Governor.

Much emphasis is placed on ensuring prisoners from minority ethnic groups are supported and a Race Equality sub-committee made up of prisoner representatives has been set up.

All complaints are investigated and no incident with any racial implication to it, goes unchallenged.


The Education Department at Low Newton is the responsibility of the Head of Learning Skills and the Education Manager. It offers full-time vocational training in VQ Call Centre Operator and NVQ Hairdressing plus a wide variety of part-time courses. These include; Basic Skills in Literacy and Numeracy, Life Skills including Child Parent Studies and Cookery, Art, Craft, Fashion and Beauty. ICT is offered from complete beginners to Level 3, including Business Presentation and Mail Merge. All courses are dual accredited with either Basic of Key Skills. There a limited number of full-time places, where timetables can be drawn up to suit individual needs. Opportunities to gain Literacy and Numeracy qualifications are available on a fortnightly basis.

Prisoners are encouraged to take advantage the Education Department facilities and “take up” levels are very high.


Situated separately from the Education Department, and providing a wide range of reading material. This service is provided by a visiting librarian.

Psychology and Programmes Department:

The Psychology Department is responsible for developing, piloting and implementing an increasing number of treatment programmes aimed at modifying offending behaviour and to learn new patterns of behaviour to reduce the likelihood of them re-offending. The programmes available are Enhanced Thinking Skills, Relapse Prevention, and Life Skills Development.

In addition to the group work programmes, the Psychology Unit also conducts work on a one-to-one basis with prisoners. This involves risk assessment and offence focused work covering issues such as anger management, sex offending, victim empathy and violent offending. The department also carried out IQ assessments, assessments of Psychopathy and of Personality Disorder where necessary.

Offender Management:

The ultimate aim of the Offender Management Department at HMP & YOI Low Newton is to promote the effective resettlement of women prisoners. In order to do this they work as a multi-disciplinary team made up of seconded probation staff and prison service staff bringing together a range of experience and expertise in the areas of pre-release preparation, risk assessment and public protection. They also work closely with other areas and functions in the prison and have forged close collaborative links with a number of voluntary and community sector agencies to provide specialist resettlement advice and services to prisoners. These include NEPACS who have helped us to set up child/parent visits allowing more informal contact between mother and child outside of the usual domestic visits thereby helping to maintain family ties, an important aspect of resettlement, and Job Centre Plus who have set up a benefits service to ensure benefit payments are stopped on coming into custody, appropriately paid as quickly as possible on release thus minimising the waiting and anxiety of not knowing when benefits might be paid and putting women into contact with appropriate levels of employment advice on release.

The staff in the Department try to see every woman who comes into Low Newton within the first week of sentence, or first 24 hours if on remand, to undertake an initial assessment of needs and risk. An individual action plan is drawn up with the prisoner and any concerns about risk to the public are dealt with through public protection procedures. Risk assessment is ongoing throughout sentence and is subject to formal review through sentence planning and assessments for release particularly HDC and parole.

Women are kept informed about release on temporary licence and this is used, subject to stringent risk assessment, to help prepare women for return to the community in a graduated way. Some women return to live with families for short periods of time and use this licence to try and resolve any accommodation difficulties or to explore training/employment opportunities.

Other prisoners have undertaken work placements in the community, being released on a day-to-day basis to allow them to put something positive back into the community and to help them acquire work skills. The women are not just seen as passive recipients of resettlement services. We have actively encouraged an ethos of using women in custody to deliver resettlement advice. Women are selected who have demonstrated, by their prison behaviour and their commitment to addressing the problems that lead to their custodial sentence, that they could be trusted to take on this responsibility.

The Housing Advice Office is staffed by a mix of selected prisoners and prison staff who work alongside each other to try and help women find accommodation on release. Close links are being made with local authorities and housing associations with mutual visits being arranged to help promote a better understanding of each others needs.


A multi-faith group with all faiths catered for either on a regular basis or by special arrangements. An Ecumenical approach is adopted to service provision with regular services, visiting groups i.e. Youth for Christ, special events e.g. Christmas Carol Service, and Chaplains are always available for counselling and support when it is necessary.

Learning Shop:

Drop in learning facility using computer based learning packages which are provided by the Learning Prison partnership. This is available to prisoners and staff and allows them to choose their own time, and pace to learn.

Prison Shop:

The canteen is privatised and operated by Aramark, on a bagging system. The specification includes a survey of needs and a request that the stock range be increased to cope with the needs of the female population, particularly ethnic produces.

Prisoners earn a weekly allowance dependent upon the work they have performed, and can receive a bonus for additional work/exceptional effort. This may then be used to purchase their requirements e.g. toiletries, sweets or snacks, soft drinks, cards.

Money may be sent to prisoners by means of postal orders, the amount being credited to their account. Please ensure the correspondence is clearly marked as to who is the recipient and the name/address of the sender.

Telephones are available to all residential areas and are accessible by pin-phone accounts.

Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service


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