Women live in a safe, well-ordered and supportive community where their positive behaviour is promoted and rewarded. Antisocial behaviour is dealt with fairly.

Supporting women’s positive behaviour

16. Women’s positive behaviour is encouraged and they are involved in promoting a healthy and safe prison community.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Staff model positive behaviour and encourage women to manage their own behaviour and actions.
  • There is a local policy and action plan to incentivise positive behaviour.
  • There is a coherent approach to promoting positive behaviour in all areas of the establishment that emphasises acknowledgement and reward.
  • Women are able to benefit from a reward scheme that motivates them to engage with the prison regime and work towards their sentence plan objectives.
  • Women are actively involved in developing and reviewing the reward schemes.
  • Where necessary women are supported to understand fully the issues underpinning any negative behaviour and are provided with support to behave differently.
  • Contact, including family days, with children, families and other people significant to women is not dependent on women’s current privileges and behaviour.
  • Women know they can appeal against reward scheme decisions and are helped to do so.
  • Conflict between women is managed well. Staff are alert to conflict and know when to intervene to prevent it escalating. Staff investigate incidents of conflict thoroughly and speak sensitively to the women involved. Mediation is used appropriately.
  • Women are encouraged to work together to resolve problems and difficulties without the need to resort to formal sanctions.
  • When rules are breached, staff take time to explain how and why to women and work with women to put in place steps to improve behaviour.
  • Women are never subject to unofficial punishments.

17. Women who need additional support to manage harmful behaviour have a detailed care plan that includes consideration about their location within the prison and the support they need.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Staff understand the underlying reasons for harmful behaviour.
  • There is an effective strategy and action plan to provide additional support to women who need it.
  • Behaviour support plans are regularly reviewed in conjunction with women and targets are updated depending on changes in behaviour.
  • Women who need additional support to manage their behaviour are not located in the segregation unit unless in exceptional circumstances. Any move to the segregation unit is made in close liaison with the mental health team and, where relevant, psychology services.
  • Specialist behavioural management units have a clear purpose, are subject to rigorous governance and provide clear rationale for ongoing separation.
  • Women living in specialist behavioural management units can easily access the support they need alongside access to a full regime.
  • Care plans are multidisciplinary and focus on the reintegration of women to the general population at the earliest opportunity.

18. Women feel and are safe from bullying, violence and other antisocial behaviour from others.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • The strategy and action plan to reduce bullying, violence and antisocial behaviour are kept under review by a well-attended multidisciplinary group that meets regularly. This includes meaningful consultation with women.
  • Staff challenge antisocial behaviour robustly and promptly.
  • All incidents of violence and antisocial behaviour are reported and investigated thoroughly.
  • Formal systems used to promote good behaviour and address bullying and violence are effective.
  • Perpetrators of violence and antisocial behaviour are helped to change their behaviour and victims are well supported.
  • Women who are self-isolating due to the fear of violence or bullying are identified, receive a daily regime that is equivalent to other prisoners and have a comprehensive reintegration plan.
  • The number of women self-isolating and the reasons for this are understood and action is taken to support them.


19. Adjudications are used as a last resort. Hearings are fair and proportionate and follow due process.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • To make sure adjudications are used as a last resort, women are not charged with an offence unless staff investigate what triggered their behaviour and consider their capacity to understand the adjudication process and the reasons for it, their mental health and their well-being.
  • Adjudications are clearly underpinned by restorative justice principles; for example, women are involved in identifying what they need to do differently.
  • The cumulative impact of punishments, together with other measures in place, are considered. This includes making sure women are never subject to a regime that amounts to solitary confinement.
  • Punishments do not interfere with women’s contact with their family or people significant to them.
  • Adjudication hearings are not conducted in the segregation unit and are held in a calm and non-threatening environment.
  • Women have the option to be supported at an adjudication hearing by a person of their choice. This can include another prisoner, a member of staff or a person who is significant to them within the prison.
  • Hearings include multidisciplinary input from others who are supporting women to ensure any underlying factors that may influence women’s behaviour are understood and that punishments do not interfere with rehabilitative work.
  • Women subject to disciplinary procedures understand the charges and procedures they face and their level of understanding is explored.
  • Women are routinely offered legal advice, understand why it may help them and are provided with time and support to apply for it.
  • Following adjudication hearings staff provide ongoing support to women to motivate them to make positive changes to their
  • Leaders routinely quality assure adjudication procedures and outcomes, including through data analysis, to make sure there is ongoing appropriateness and fairness.
  • Leaders use adjudication data to identify and understand causes and themes in underlying behaviour. They put in place plans to address these across the prison.


20. Women are only separated as a last resort with the proper authorisation. Separation is carried out safely, in line with women’s individual needs and never as punishment.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Women are only separated for justifiable reasons and as a last resort.
  • When women are separated this is for the shortest possible time and subject to proper authorisation and review.
  • Women are not separated as a punishment.
  • Women on an open ACCT (see Appendix I, note vi) are only separated in exceptional circumstances, with oversight from the mental health team and a senior leader.
  • Separation as a punishment should not be used for women who are pregnant, with infants or breastfeeding.
  • Women are informed of the reasons for their separation in a format and language they understand and are made aware of how to challenge it.
  • A multidisciplinary staff group monitors woman in segregation units, those who are separated on normal location and those in specialist units to ensure they are held there as a last resort and that it has been appropriately authorised. There is analysis of patterns and trends about who is being separated and the reasons for it.
  • Transfers of women between segregation units in different prisons are exceptional, carefully monitored to prevent prolonged segregation and properly authorised.
  • Separated women have daily access to a senior leader, chaplain and a health services professional, in private if requested, and a record of these visits is maintained. A member of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) team visits them at least once a week.
  • Medical staff report to the governor/director at any time when the effect of segregation on a woman’s mental health becomes a concern (see ‘Health and social care’ section).

21. Women are kept safe at all times while separated and individual well-being is fully recognised and promoted.

 The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  •  Staff make every effort to understand the behaviour leading to separation and women are supported to address this.
  • Staff receive support and training in how to work with separated people, which includes the particular effects of separation on women.
  • Separated women have their individual needs met and are involved in the development and delivery of their reintegration plan.
  • Health care staff promptly assess all women who have been separated and make sure action is taken when women are assessed as not coping with separation.
  • Women who are separated are not strip-searched unless there is sufficient specific intelligence and proper authorisation.
  • Women are never subjected to a regime which amounts to solitary confinement (see Appendix I, note vii).
  • Women held in separation have meaningful conversations with a range of staff every day, including the opportunity to speak in confidence with a senior leader, a health care professional and a chaplain.
  • The number of staff necessary to unlock individual women who are separated is decided on the basis of a daily risk assessment, which is properly authorised and recorded.
  • Staff are vigilant in detecting and acting on signs of decline in the emotional and mental well-being of women who are separated. Women who are separated retain their personal possessions unless there are documented exceptional circumstances evidenced by a multidisciplinary review.

22. Women in the segregation unit or who are separated live in decent conditions and have a regime that is equivalent to the rest of the prison.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Segregation units are decent, clean and meet the needs of women.
  • Women are not denied contact with their children, families and others significant to them.
  • Women are not routinely locked in a cell and are able to associate with others and undertake purposeful activities.
  • Subject to risk assessment, women can access the same facilities and privileges as elsewhere in the prison, including regime activities and the support of peer workers.
  • Women who are segregated have at least one hour of exercise outdoors every day. This is in association with other women unless there is a defensible and authorised risk assessment evidencing the reason not to allow this.

Use of force

23. Force is only used as a last resort and never as a punishment. If force is used on women it is justified, necessary, proportionate and subject to rigorous governance.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • There is a use of force minimisation strategy in place that involves all departments and includes the dissemination of good practice in avoiding the use of force.
  • Women contribute to local policy on use of force, including advising on what is helpful when they are in distress.
  • All staff are trained in and use de-escalation techniques.
  • Body-worn video cameras are always used to film spontaneous and planned use of force incidents and as a de-escalation tool.
  • A use of force plan is in place to safeguard pregnant and postpartum women and those with a relevant medical condition who may be adversely affected by restraint.
  • All staff are aware of the information in the plan and use it during restraint.
  • Planned use of force is properly authorised and force is only ever used once all other avenues of persuasion have been exhausted. Staff interact with women clearly.
  • Health staff recognise risks associated with restraint, attend all planned use of force situations and brief staff appropriately. They comprehensively assess women’s’ well-being during and after the incident and initiate all required treatment and interventions promptly.
  • Where needed women have care plans which highlight risk factors and set out alternative management protocols to reduce the likelihood of restraint techniques becoming necessary.
  • All women subjected to force are given the opportunity to talk about their experience with someone not involved in the incident as soon as possible after it has happened.
  • The use of personal protection equipment by staff is proportionate to the risks posed by the use of force and is reviewed regularly by leaders.
  • Batons and PAVA spray are never used or carried.
  • Use of force data is monitored. Emerging patterns and evidence of disproportionality for protected and minority characteristics are acted on effectively.
  • Use of force documentation is completed promptly.
  • Use of force documentation and associated CCTV or video footage is retained appropriately and is scrutinised by leaders to identify good practice, disproportionate behaviour, opportunities for improvement and possible ill-treatment.
  • Women know that they can ask to see CCTV footage following a use of force incident and requests are processed appropriately and efficiently.
  • Staff are always identifiable during a use of force incident.

24. Women are only ever located in special or unfurnished accommodation, or placed in mechanical restraints or strip clothing, as a last resort and when measures are put in place to protect their dignity.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • The use of special or unfurnished accommodation is regularly monitored by leaders and others to make sure it is appropriate and defensible.
  • The use of special or unfurnished accommodation, mechanical restraints or anti-rip clothing is properly authorised by a senior leader. It is only used when strictly necessary and proportionate and for the shortest possible time.
  • Women are treated with dignity at all times.
  • The use of any cell from which normal furniture, bedding or sanitation has been removed or in which a woman is held in anti-rip clothing is authorised and recorded as a use of special or unfurnished accommodation.
  • Women are not strip-searched or deprived of their normal clothing in special or unfurnished accommodation unless properly authorised and on the basis of specific intelligence.
  • Women with severe mental illness and women at risk of suicide or self-harm are not held in special or unfurnished accommodation except in clearly documented exceptional circumstances, on the authority of a governor, and in direct consultation with the mental health team.
  • Women who are pregnant and mothers with babies are never located in special or unfurnished accommodation. Staff regularly and actively engage with women and encourage them to return to a normal cell at the earliest opportunity.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectations 16 to 19, human rights standards require any rules that women are expected to follow to be clearly explained to them. Disciplinary procedures should be a last resort; conflict prevention, mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution should be used where possible. Any charges against women must be explained to them in a way they understand and women must be able to seek legal advice. Any punishments should be proportionate to the severity of the offence and there must be no collective or unofficial punishments. Punishments should not interfere with women’s ability to contact their families. See BR 23; EPR 30, 55–60.5, 61–63; BOP 30; SMR 36–41, 95. See also standards in relation to expectations 9 to 13.

In relation to expectations 20 to 24, human rights standards only allow for the use of force and restraint when absolutely necessary and as a measure of last resort. The force or restraint used must be the minimum necessary and for the shortest possible time. There must be clear procedures governing the use of force and restraint and staff must be trained to use techniques that minimise the use of force. Women giving birth must never be restrained. Separation of women must only be used when absolutely necessary, for the shortest possible time, and when proportionate. Because of the harm that can be caused by separation, specific and additional safeguards need to be in place, including regular reviews of the reasons for separation and daily visits from health care staff. Separated women must have at least one hour of exercise and two hours of meaningful human contact each day. See CAT 2, 16; ECHR 3, 8; ICCPR 7, 10; CRPD 15; BR 22–24; EPR 53–53A, 64–66, 68-69; SMR 43–44, 46–49, 82.