Men's prison Expectations


Welcome to the fifth edition of Expectations, the criteria against which HMI Prisons inspects prisons for men. This edition aims to bring Expectations up to date so that we can continue to fulfil our responsibility to deliver independent and objective assessments of outcomes for prisoners. This focus is in accordance with the UK’s responsibilities as signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

Expectations is designed to promote treatment and conditions in detention which at least meet recognised international human rights standards. In particular, they seek to ensure that any restrictions imposed on prisoners are proportionate, lawful, accountable, necessary and non-discriminatory.

We have retained four healthy prison tests, but our previous ‘resettlement’ test has been renamed ‘rehabilitation and release planning’, because this more accurately describes its content. For the first time we have included criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership. We will make judgements when leadership has an observable impact on outcomes for prisoners and any judgements we make will relate to how leadership supports or obstructs the achievement of other expectations within the establishment on which we are reporting.

We are publishing Expectations exclusively online and hope that this more interactive and user-friendly format will increase its utility to those working in prisons. Each expectation area is presented alongside other relevant resources, good practice examples and short summaries of the relevant human rights standards. We will use these new Expectations from September 2017.

I sincerely hope that both the content and presentation of new Expectations will support establishments in their efforts to improve outcomes for prisoners.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

July 2017



Expectations is available in PDF (544 kB) and Word (547 kB).

We also have a comprehensive report (172 kB) about the human rights standards which underpin our Expectations, and a glossary (14 kB) of human rights documents.

Please note: The expectations for Education, Skills and Work have been revised to incorporate Ofsted’s new inspection framework. This joint letter (156 kB) from HMI Prisons and Ofsted confirms that they came into effect on 1 February 2020.