Our Expectations

Expectations are the documents which set out the criteria we use to inspect prisons and other forms of detention. They are based on international human rights standards and are used to examine all aspects of life in detention.

There is a different version of Expectations for each type of custody we inspect and all can be found on this page. However, our basic inspection methodology is consistent across all forms of detention. It consists of a series of broad thematic judgements known as healthy establishment tests.

The tests vary slightly but all have been developed from our four tests of a healthy prison, which are:

  • Safety: Prisoners, particularly 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.
  • Rehabilitation and release planning: Prisoners are supported to maintain and develop relationships with their family and friends. Prisoners are helped to reduce their likelihood of reoffending and their risk of harm is managed effectively. Prisoners are prepared for their release back into the community.

From July 2021, we also began to inspect leadership in men’s, women’s and children’s establishments. Read about our leadership Expectations.