About The Prison Oracle

The Definitive Prisons Web Site
Trusted By Experts

“An Excellent Site” Michael Spurr
CEO HMPPS 2010-2019

“Impressively Comprehensive” Phil Wheatley former Director General
HM Prison Service

“Recommended Without Hesitation” Tony Hassall,, Commissioner Correctional Services Western Australia

“Sets The Benchmark for Excellence” Sir Martin Narey, Director General National Offender Management Service

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By Mark Leech

Editor of The Prison Oracle 


I once had a dream – well two dreams really, but I’ll come to the second in a moment.

The first ‘dream’ started life 30 years ago, sitting in the large caged Reception cubicle at Wandsworth prison in south London, I was waiting for my prison escort to arrive to take me to Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight – a journey that was destined to end in the highest court in the United Kingdom and change British prison law forever, but that’s another story.

It was in that caged Wandsworth Prison cubicle that day that I found myself surrounded by a mixture of prisoners who had just arrived at Wandsworth and others, like myself, who were lucky enough to be leaving.

Minding my own business I sat and listened to the questions that went back and forth between the concerns of the worried new arrivals and the old-hand Norman Stanley Fletcher replies of those like myself who couldn’t wait to get out of there.

What’s it like here? What are the visits like? Is there any work available, and what are the wages like? What are the cells like? What about the food? Is it true they have a painting and decorating course? What’s the doctor like? Can I see a dentist while I’m here, and is there a waiting list?

These of course were exactly the same questions I had asked when I arrived at Wandsworth six months before – and they were exactly the same questions I would be asking again later that day when I arrived at Parkhurst .

Suddenly a penny dropped: I wonder if there’s a book that gives details about every prison and what it has to offer?

During the journey that afternoon to Parkhurst Prison I asked the Prison Officer I was shackled to: “Is there a reference book on Prisons?”

“No” came the terse reply, in a way that made it clear questions were not invited and comments were equally unwelcome.

Secretly though, right there and then, I decided that I was going to write that book.



You’re going to write a book on Prisons Leech?!”

The Parkhurst Wing Governor laughed and shook his head in disbelief as I told him of my plan during my Induction Interview a few days later.

Well today, 25 annual editions later, ‘that book’The Prisons Handbookhas become the 1,600-page definitive annual reference book on the prison system of England and Wales that is sold all over the world.

One dream delivered – and now let me tell how how the second one was born; this web site.

In May 2018, having spent hours on the internet trying to locate a copy of The Woolf Report for some research I was doing, and having had to give up exasperated at my inability to find it, I had another dream.

One place, where everything on prisons was brought together, that was user-friendly, time-saving, comprehensive, totally independent, and where full access cost less than a cup of coffee a week; The Prison Oracle was born.

Fifteen months later, in October 2019, the dream became reality when The Prison Oracle opened its cyber doors and won outstanding reviews from those who have spent a lifetime working and living in prisons.

The Prison Oracle now has over 10,000 members, it covers 44,000 pages, it employs over a dozen ex offender page editors who keep the site up to date – and yes it contains a copy of The Woolf Report, along with almost every other valuable and vintage publication on prisons going right back to The State of The Prisons published by John Howard in 1777.

What’s on The Prison Oracle?

The Prison Oracle is the definitive comprehensive prisons website for prisons in England and Wales – giving you the most comprehensive, up-to-date information on every single one of the 118 Prisons and Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales – check out an example prison page here – including the latest IMB and HMIP Inspection Reports, fatal incident reports on those who have died in this prison – all immediately on publication – and in addition you get all this too….

RECEPTION TO RELEASE. 100’s of pages of detailed, up-to-date policy information on:

  1. Early Days in Custody
  2. Offending Behaviour Programmes
  3. Criminal Cases Review Commission
  4. Requests and Complaints
  5. Prisoner Communications
  6. Drugs and Alcohol in Prison Institutions
  7. The Prison Disciplinary System
  8. Support – Who Can Help?
  9. Healthcare
  10. Religion
  11. Equality Age, Gender, Disability & Race
  12. Social Security and Discharge Grants
  13. Release and Recall
  14. Indeterminate Sentences
  15. Women Prisoners
  16. Young Offenders (18-21 year olds)
  17. Young People (15-17 year olds)
  18. Foreign Nationals
  19. Disability in Prison
  20. Employment, Training & Skills
  21. Work and Pay
  22. Incentives and Earned Privileges
  23. Civil Partnerships & Equal Marriage
  24. Elderly Prisoners
  25. Segregation
  26. Security categorisation
  27. Repatriation to the UK (Post Brexit)

THE VIEW FROM HERE Articles and opinion on prison issues by experts in their field

This Section is about prison staff:

How to join
Prepare for interview
Go through training
Details of the new 2022/2023 Level 3 Custody and Detention Prison Officer Apprenticeship that takes 12-18 months to complete and replaces the former Prison Officer Entry level Training (POELT) Course – and for those who wish to advance we set out details of the new 2022/2023 four-year Justice Leaders Course that, for those who aspire to be tomorrows leaders today in either Prison or Probation service, results in a Master’s Degree and its graduate owner already well on their way up to senior management.

Independent bodies that have a duty to Inspect and Monitor the criminal justice system
Criminal Justice Joint Inspections – hundreds of Joint Inspection Reports, from 2000 to date
HM CPS Inspectorate – 350 Inspection reports divided into: Area Assurance, Area, Annual and Audit, and Ad Hoc Reports
IMB Reports – thousands of Independent Monitoring Board Annual Reports on every prison and YOI in the country, from 2009 to date

NPM Reports– Key Documents and details of all 21 statutory organisations that make up the National Preventive Mechanism
PPO Reports – thousands of death in custody reports, fully cross-referenced you won’t find anywhere else and right up to date
HM Prisons Inspectorate Reports – over 1,00 prison and YOI inspection reports- and their Thematic Reviews too, from 2005 to date
HM Probation Inspectorate Reports – over 1,500 Probation Inspectorate reports – and their Thematic Reviews too right up to date

NEWS DESK Breaking News on prisons as it happens Latest Rules, Reports & Policies as they are issued

The law relating to prisoners is complex, their rights depend on their status as remand or convicted prisoners, as adults or young offenders,  male or female – or transgendered – and also their sentence length and security categorisation. This section, edited by prison law Barristers, examines prisoners and the law and gives you:

  1. Prisons Legal Cases Database – Instant access to over 1,400 court judgments in legal cases brought both by prisoners and officers.
  2. Introduction to the Law & Prisoners rights
  3. A-Z Subject Index- Instant access to 400 Prison Law subjects, in A-Z format from ‘Access to Justice’ to ‘Zoonotic Infections
  4. Criminal Appeals
  5. Prisons Legal Cases Database
  6. The Sentencing Act 2020
  7. Introduction to the Law & Prisoners
  8. Prison Rules 1999 (Correct to date)
  9. A-Z Index of over 400 prison law subjects
  10. Parole Board Rules 2019 (Correct to date)
  11. Appeals
  12. Websites of Interest
  13. Young Offender Institution Rules 2000 (Correct to date)

Fed up with searching for CCRC cases referred to the Court of Appeal, the case details, why they were referred and the outcome of the case? Well now you don’t have to – it’s all here on our full CCRC Database of over 400 cases.

Containing almost 1,000 Published Reports and Evidential Correspondence from the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee, from Parliamentary Sessions for every year right back to 2002-2003

PRESS RELEASE DATABASE Containing Press Releases issued by
G4S – the private prison company going back to 2009
HM Prison & Probation Service going back to 2014
Ministry of Justice – over 1,500 press releases, going back to 2009
Parole Board – all Parole Board press releases going back to 2013
Prisons & Probation Ombudsman – containing almost 100 ‘Learning Lessons Bulletins’ and Media releases, and our Deaths in Custody Database carries over 2,300 of the PPO’s Fatal Incident Reports, set out by year, and by individual establishment, and by the name of the deceased – something you do not get anywhere else.
Probation Inspectorate – over 650 press releases, from 2013 to the present day
Serco – press release by the private prison company Serco
Sodexo – press release by the private prison company Sodexo


  1. Anti-corruption
  2. Awards & Prizes
  3. Banged Up Abroad: Packs
  4. Basic Custody Screening Tool
  5. Community Performance Quarterly
  6. Cost per Prisoner Place 2015-present
  7. Counter Terrorism Statistics
  8. Crime Statistics
  9. Criminal Justice Quarterly
  10. Civil Justice Quarterly
  11. Forthcoming Publications
  12. Freedom of Information Act Releases
  13. Freedom of Information Act Database 2012- present
  14. Freedom of Information Act Database 2005-2012
  15. Guidance Database
  16. Healthcare in Prison
  17. HMPPS Annual Digest
  18. HMPPS Annual Offender Equalities
  19. HMPPS Other Corporate Reports
  20. HMPPS Annual Staff Equalities
  21. Incident Management
  22. Knife and Crime Sentencing Database
  23. Legal Aid Statistics Database
  24. Justice Data Lab Stats
  25. Law Commission Database
  26. MAPPA Annual Reports
  27. MAPPA Policies, Papers & More
  28. MOJ Service Specifications
  29. Offender Management Statistics 2010-present
  30. Parliamentary Questions
  31. Parole Board
  32. Parole Board – Reconsideration Mechanism
  33. Payment by Results Statistics – Final
  34. Prison Performance Ratings
  35. Prison Population 2010 to Present
  36. Prison Estate
  37. Probation Reform
  38. Proven Reoffending 2009-Present
  39. Proven Reoffending Tables 2000-2011
  40. Race and the Criminal Justice System
  41. Regional Reducing Reoffending Plans
  42. Research Briefings
  43. Safety in Custody Quarterly Bulletin
  44. Safety in the children and young people secure estate
  45. Secure video calls with prisoners
  46. Serious Further Offences
  47. Terrorism
  48. Violence Reduction
  49. Women and the Criminal Justice System
  50. Workforce Quarterly Bulletin
  51. MOJ Workforce Annual Monitoring
  52. YJB Reports
  53. Youth Justice Reports
  54. Youth Justice Statistics from 2008

The largest circulation national monthly prisons newspaper, and the only one edited and published 100% by reformed offenders is available online to Enhanced and Corporate subscribers of The Prison Oracle – and our archives back to 2007 too!

Instant access to all Prison Service Instructions, Orders, and Policy Frameworks that are currently in force – updated daily

Instant access to valuable research publications:

  1. The Prisons Handbook 2023
  2. The Cell Companion 2023
  3. Prison Law Index 2023
  4. Converse Newspaper
  5. Converse Archive
  6. Vintage & Valuable Publications
  7. The State of The Prisons: John Howard (1777)
  8. Prison Commissioners: First 20 years
  9. Prison Commissioners Database
  10. The Punishment and Prevention of Crime 1885
  11. English Prisons Today 1922
  12. English Prisons Under Local Government 1922
  13. Penal Discipline 1922
  14. The Du Parcq Report 1932
  15. The Mountbatten Report 1966
  16. The Radzinowicz Report 1968
  17. The May Report 1979
  18. Frightened For My Life – An Account of Deaths in British Prisons 1982
  19. The Maze Prison Escape 1983
  20. Managing The Long-Term Prison Population 1984
  21. The Woolf Report 1991
  22. The Wymott Prison Riot 1993
  23. The Learmont Report 1994
  24. The Woodcock Report 1995
  25. The Carter Report 2003
  26. The Zahid Mubarek Report 2006 Vol 1
  27. The Zahid Mubarek Report 2006 Vol 2
  28. The Corston Report 2007
  29. The Bradley Report 2009
  30. The IMB Karen Page Report 2014
  31. The Harris Review Report 2015
  32. The Dame Sally Coates Report 2016
  33. The Farmer Report For Men 2017
  34. The Lammy Report 2017
  35. Mental Health in Prisons Report 2017
  36. The Farmer Report for Women 2019
  37. Farmer Report Update
  38. Black Drugs Review Report 2020
  39. Black Drugs Review Report 2021
  40. Kerslake Commission on Rough Sleeping parts 1 &2

Current list of Governing Governors and Prison Group Directors for all prisons and YOIs

With violence in prisons at record levels we make this important section free to all – an expert explanation of personal injury in prison by Michael Jefferies, solicitor and Chairman of the Prison Injury Lawyers Association writes on on the rights and routes to claim compensation for personal injury sustained in prison where the injury was caused by no fault of the person injured.

New content is added every day!

What people say about The Prison Oracle

‘An Excellent Site”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive HMPPS 2010-2019

‘Impressively Comprehensive’
Phil Wheatley, Director General HM Prison Service

‘Recommended without any hesitation’
Tony Hassall Commissioner: Corrections Western Australia

‘A terrific service!  Imagine if MOJ itself were this helpful and competent!”
Julian Le Vay: Former Finance Director HM Prison Service for England & Wales

‘The Go-To Place for everything prison-related’
Richard Rowley MD: Census Life

‘Way better and faster than the HMPPS Intranet’
Brian Levine Custodial Manager: HMPPS

‘I can now download all the things I need in minutes’
Maureen Jenson: Prison Librarian

‘Excellent, every IMB Member should subscribe to this’
Paul Johnson: Independent Monitoring Board Member

‘Worth every single penny’
David Breakspear: former Long-Term, Prisoner

‘Needed for years’
Michael Brown: former Long-Term Prisoner

‘OMG Saved me hours of endless searching’
Vicky Partington: wife of IPP Prisoner

‘The best £2.50 a week I’ve ever spent’
Jeanne McCudden: mother of a Young Offender

‘Prisons org uk – you’ve done it again – brilliant’
Ashraf Patel: brother of a sister in prison

‘This is fantastic, I’ve just signed up and it’s so useful – thank you!’
Tammy Banks (Linkedin)

‘I’m blown away with what is available on The Prison Oracle”’
@Areformedman (Twitter)

“I’ve spent considerable time perusing the extensive content and found it to be an incredibly useful source. What I like best about it, is the idea that the information is there at your fingertips, without the need to trawl through page after page of internet content. The site is user friendly and easy to navigate. I also think it would lend itself well to an app for even more ease of use. The back catalogue of Converse was another nice surprise as skimming through past editions reminds me of fast-paced developments within the prison estate, some of which have completely slipped my mind. Overall, for anyone interested in prisons, this is most certainly a valuable and convenient source.”
Jo Prescott, Lecturer in Criminology & PhD candidate (@Joprescott8)

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