Our responsibilities

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons’ responsibilities are set out in sections 5A and 43 of the Prison Act 1952 (as amended). They are to inspect (or arrange for the inspection of) and report to the Secretary of State
on:

  • prisons, young offender institutions (YOIs), and secure training centres (STCs) in England and Wales;
  • court custody facilities in Crown Courts, county courts and magistrates’ courts in England and Wales and escorts to and from these facilities; and
  • immigration removal centres (IRCs), short-term holding facilities, pre-departure accommodation and escort arrangements throughout the UK.

In particular, the Chief Inspector shall report to the Secretary of State on the treatment of detainees and the conditions in establishments.

Schedule A1 of the Prison Act 1952 sets out the Chief Inspector’s further powers and duties to cooperate and consult with other criminal justice inspectorates and other bodies. These are to:

  • delegate any of his functions to another public authority;
  • prepare an inspection programme and inspection framework on which the Secretary of State and other specified bodies must be consulted (this does not prevent the Chief Inspector from making
    visits without notice);
  • ensure inspections by other specified bodies do not place an
    unreasonable burden on organisations within his remit;
  • cooperate with other specified bodies where it is appropriate to do so for the efficient and effective discharge of his functions;
  • act jointly with other public authorities where it is appropriate to do so for the efficient and effective discharge of his functions;
  • act jointly with other criminal justice inspectors to prepare a joint inspection programme on which the Secretary of State and other specified bodies must be consulted; and
  • provide assistance to any other public authority in the exercise of its functions.

The majority of inspections undertaken by the Chief Inspector benefit from the assistance of other inspectorates and inspections of STCs are undertaken jointly with Ofsted and the CQC.

The Chief Inspector may also carry out inspections of other facilities by invitation, including inspections of military detention facilities including the Military Corrective Training Centre and Service Custody Facilities in the UK, prisons in Northern Ireland (on behalf of Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI), prisons on the Isle of Man and Channel Islands and some other overseas prisons in jurisdictions with links to the UK.

The Chief Inspector must prepare an annual report to be laid before parliament.