New Prisoner Rules - What are the Key Changes?

Craig MacKenzie
Craig MacKenzie

Published: March 1st, 2024

7 min read

The Prison and Young Offender Institution (Adjudication) (Amendment) Rules 2024 come into force on 31 May 2024 and will make a number of important changes in relation to prisoner discipline and punishment.

These changes are intended to improve behaviour management in prisons by ensuring serious offences against discipline are appropriately charged and providing governors with more options for dealing with offences against discipline. Improving prison safety through behaviour management is a priority for the Government.

What are the key changes?

Firstly, the Amendment Rules amend the offences against discipline in the Prison and YOI Rules. They replace the existing offences against discipline relating to race with charges that relate to all protected characteristics (including race) in line with the Equality Act 2010.

They also introduce new offences against discipline for sexually inappropriate behaviours. This ensures victims of offences against discipline related to one or more protected characteristics are treated equally and that the experiences of victims of sexual offences are recognised and recorded within the adjudications system to combat sexually inappropriate behaviour in prisons.

Secondly, the Amendment Rules give prison governors two new options when adjudicating. Firstly, they provide for a payback punishment where a prisoner makes amends for their wrongdoing by engaging in unpaid rehabilitative or reparative work to give back to the prison community. Secondly, they allow suspending an existing punishment when a prisoner completes a rehabilitative activity.

These options will allow prisons to address the root causes of rule-breaking to support prisoners in breaking patterns of repeated misbehaviour.

Thirdly, the Amendment Rules give the governor or Independent Adjudicator statutory discretion as to whether to impose compensation requirements (and the amount that they impose) where a prisoner has destroyed or damaged any part of a prison or any other property belonging to a prison to take account of whether repayment of the total cost would exacerbate financial hardship or cause other negative indirect consequences.

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