Arriving in prison

Our first priority when a person arrives in prison is their safety and wellbeing.

A person might be sent to prison for two reasons. If they have been convicted and sentenced, and if they have been remanded in custody while awaiting trial or sentencing.

People in custody will normally be held in the court cells until the end of the day, then be transported to the prison's receiving office.

Searching, identity check and property

Identities are checked to make sure the person should be in prison and then each person is searched for banned items. If a person has property with them, it will be documented and processed at this point.

Once the property has been checked, it may be given back, stored or disposed of. People may be able to send their property out of the prison.


If a person has cash it will be deposited in their prison trust account. They can use this account to purchase a range of approved grocery items.


Clothing will be issued, although this varies between prisons. Some may allow people to wear some of their own clothes but no gang-coloured clothing or paraphernalia is allowed.


New arrivals are interviewed to establish general details like next of kin and if they have any immediate needs.

They are also given an initial health check which includes mental health screening.

Placement in a unit or wing

Part of the assessment process is used to determine where a person will initially be placed in a prison.

Many prisons will have a unit where new arrivals will spend their first days.

New arrivals will be taken to the unit they have been assigned to and allocated a cell. This may be a single cell or a cell shared with another.

Soon after they arrive in the unit, staff will explain the rules and regulations of the prison and the routine of their unit.  This includes how they can contact family or friends, have visitors, use health services and contact staff like the social worker and chaplain who can help them adjust to prison life.

Security classification

Security classification is done within 14 days of being sentenced and takes into account risks posed by the offender. We use security classification to decide what unit a prisoner should be in.


If a person is aged 17 or under when they arrive in prison they are placed in a youth unit. The assessment process for those aged 18 and 19 takes into account their best interests and those of the other people in the youth unit.

People on remand

People on remand go through most of the same processes as those who have been sentenced but there are key differences.

  • They are generally allowed to wear their own clothes while in custody.
  • They stay in units only for people on remand.