What we do

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (HMI Prisons) is an independent inspectorate which reports on conditions for and treatment of those in prison, young offender institutions, secure training centres, immigration detention facilities, police and court custody suites, customs custody facilities and military detention.

HMI Prisons’ role is to provide independent scrutiny of the conditions for and treatment of prisoners and other detainees, promoting the concept of ‘healthy establishments’ in which staff work effectively to support prisoners and detainees to reduce reoffending and achieve positive outcomes for those detained and for the public.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons is appointed by the Justice Secretary from outside of the Prison Service. The Chief Inspector reports directly to the Justice Secretary and ministers on the treatment of prisoners, conditions in prisons, young offender institutions, court custody and other matters in England and Wales as directed by the Justice Secretary. The Chief Inspector also has a statutory responsibility to inspect and report to the Home Secretary on conditions for and treatment of detainees in all places of immigration detention in the United Kingdom.

As part of its joint inspection programme with other criminal justice inspectorates, the Chief Inspector of Prisons inspects police custody in England and Wales with HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICRS) lead on these inspections. In addition, the Chief Inspector of Prisons is invited to inspect the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, military service custody facilities and prisons in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

All inspections of prisons, young offender institutions and immigration removal centres are conducted jointly with Ofsted, Estyn (Wales) or Education Scotland, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). All prison inspections also involve HM Inspectorate of Probation to review offender management in joint arrangements in custody. Inspections of UK Border Force custody facilities are led jointly with HMICFRS with support from the CQC; inspections of police are led by HMICFRS with HMI Prisons and the CQC providing support. All inspections of secure training centres are jointly led with Ofsted, again supported by the CQC.

HMI Prisons’ work is an important part of the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (OPCAT). This Protocol requires signatory states to have in place regular independent inspection of places of detention.