The Institute of Prison Law

‘Delivering Legal Theory in Practice’

The Institute of Prison Law

The Institute of Prison Law exists in order to further the professional knowledge and the practice of prison law.

We do this by providing professional prison law training delivered to our clients by a team of experts who are renowned in their field.

The Institute of Prison Law, as its name implies, focuses exclusively on Prison Law – and nothing else.

The Certificate of Competency in Prison Law

This is the only the complete eight module Certificate of Competency Course in Prison Law. Until the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) completely abolished its external Continuous Professional Development (CPD) system the Institute of Prison Law was continually accredited by the SRA as a CPD course provider for over ten years – and this course was throughout that period a 48 CPD point accredited course – nevertheless, despite the complete abolition of the external accreditation system by the SRA, this course is updated annually – and it has now been fully revised for 2022.

The course includes the legislative changes and early release arrangements brought in as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. All texts (including the vital area of funding) have been updated, there are eight Modules, 28 Units – this course has been designed specifically to help solicitors manage their learning and development under the continuing competence regime and ensures they can make their declaration in October with confidence.

But the course is not only for lawyers – prison governors, prison officers, voluntary sector workers, and even prisoners themselves have been taught prison law with this course – and gone on to practice it successfully.


Members of the public: If you have a personal, professional or academic interest in prisons and are looking to develop that interest with a professional knowledge of the law as it applies to prisons, then this is that course; no previous prison law knowledge is necessary as the subject is taught from the ground up. This course sits between level 3 and level 4 and non-graduates are advised to have at least level 2 in English and maths before they register – email with any queries.

To register Just scroll to the bottom of the page, download the registration form, pay the fee online and we will complete your registration and send you the course materials – make sure you fully read and understand the terms and conditions before you register; the course must be completed within one calendar year of registration.

Serving prisoners in England who wish to register for the course must comply with the Prison Education and Library Services Policy Framework (in Wales it’s PSI 32/2012) and obtain approval to complete a self-funded Distance Learning Course in terms of security and ability.

This means the prison has to countersign the application form confirming approval in terms of security clearance and individual ability – the applicant must have at least Level 2 English and Maths – and the countersigning staff member must provide their official email address for due diligence purposes. Non-graduate prisoners applying to the prison for access to the course may find it useful to complete a 500-word essay addressing one of the three questions below to submit with their application to the prison to confirm their ability to complete the course.

1 Discuss: Is prison a journey or a destination?

2. In 1922 George Bernard Shaw described ‘The Retribution Muddle’ in which he wrote: “Now if you are to punish a man retributively, you must injure him. If you are to reform him, you must improve him. And men are not improved by injuries.” How would you reconcile Shaw’s ‘Muddle’?

3. In 2021 Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales wrote: “Blaming prisons for their failure to reduce crime is as futile as blaming Accident and Emergency departments for their failure to reduce road accidents.” Discuss.


For full details of the course content download the Course Syllabus and Registration Form belowfull terms and conditions of registration can be accessed here and should be read in full as registration expressly confirms agreement with them.


The Insititute of Prison Law is a trading style owned by Prisons org uk Ltd’s (POUK) parent company who licence POUK to act as its UK course facilitator on their behalf. All queries should be emailed to:

“Brilliant course, thoroughly enjoyed it, found it very worthwhile and has certainly helped me in my career.”

Richard Stedman

Governing Governor, Oakhill STC

“I highly recommend this course to all of my Governor Grade colleagues.”

Alan Cousins

Governor, Head of Security, HM Prison Service

“I am a senior solicitor with Higher Rights in Crime. In all the years of study I found this course to be one of the most worthwhile. I would recommend this course for those who would wish to become involved in providing the after-care service to sentenced criminal clients.”

John Weate

Solicitor & Partner, RMNJ, Merseyside

“Can I just say what an absolute pleasure this course has been, almost without fail legal training courses are box ticking exercises, but this course has been a breath of fresh air — thanks again for what was a rewarding experience and a real pleasure to study.”

James Fairweather

Solicitor & Partner, Carringtons Solicitors, Nottingham

“I studied this course while in prison, which I left in March 2016 and since then I have been working in the prison law department of a national solicitors firm, I now have my own caseload, fee earn and my life of crime has long since been forgotten – this course changed my life; thank you for it.”

Davd F

Ex-Offender, Formerly HMP Spring Hill

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