‘Expectations’ is the document which sets out the detailed criteria HMI Prisons uses to appraise and inspect prisons and other custodial establishments. These criteria are used to examine every area of life for the detainee, from arrival to release.

‘Expectations’ are based on international human rights standards, as well as issues considered essential to the safe, respectful and purposeful treatment of detainees in custody and their effective resettlement. Expectations are also based on the rules, regulations and guidelines by which the custodial establishment is run.

With reference to prisons, the concept of a healthy prison is one that was first set out by the World Health Organisation, but it has been developed by this Inspectorate, and is now widely accepted as a definition of what ought to be provided in any custodial environment. It rests upon four key tests:

  • safety:  prisoners, even the most vulnerable, are held safely
  • respect: prisoners are treated with respect for their human dignity
  • purposeful activity:  prisoners are able, and expected, to engage in activity that is likely to benefit them
  • resettlement:  prisoners are prepared for release into the community, and helped to reduce the likelihood of reoffending


More information

Find out more about how we judge prisons and immigration detention facilities by reading the full document: