If you’re in prison, you will be due a category review during your sentence. We can offer you best in class legal support and advice about your categorisation.

If you’ve been sent to prison, you will be due a category review during your sentence, the frequency of you reviews will depend on your sentence length but normally they will be either every year for longer sentences (4 years or more) or every 6 months for shorter sentences (less than 4 years).

If you’d like to speak with us about your category review and need support with your representation, please contact our expert prison law team by filling out a form or calling us on the number below.


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What is recategorisation?

Security categories for prisoners are decided according to the risk of whether a prisoner might escape – or whether it is likely they may harm other prisoners or prison staff. Categorisation of prisoners is usually reviewed annually, where prisoners can be recategorised and moved to jails with a lower categorisation.

The main prison categories in England and Wales are:

Category A – high risk to the public, the police or national security

Category B – lower risk, but measures are needed to prevent escape

Category C – Unsuitable for open prisons but unlikely to escape

Category D – Suitable for open prisons.

How often are my reviews? 

Every 6 months if:

  • You are serving a determinate sentence of between 1 and 4 years
  • You are an extended sentence for public protection (EPP) prisoner on a custodial terms of under 4 years on
  • You are in the last 24 months of your sentence


  • A determinate sentence of 4 years or more
  • An EPP with a custodial term of 4 years or more
  • If you’re serving an indeterminate sentence

Who makes the decision on my category review?

For those who are a determinate sentence prisoner, a board or a single governor will review your category. Their decision will then be put in front of a “Governor 4” or above, who must then be approved of their verdict.

If you are an indeterminate sentence prisoner, your review can be done by lifer managers (from Cat B to Cat C) but this will depend on your category. For other sentences, reviews can be done by a Parole Board (for Cat D) or in certain circumstances, by the Secretary of State (to move to open conditions).

How Can We Help?

Category A prisoners are not reviewed until two years into their sentence, and then reviewed annually thereafter. As mentioned, advice and assistance with Category A reviews are within the scope of legal aid – but Category B and C prisoners are reviewed every six months and will be reviewed annually in the case of sentences over four years.

Unfortunately, assistance with these recategorisation reviews do not fall within the scope of legal aid. However, we at Youngs Law offer competitive private rates to assist with your recategorisation at this stage and can provide advice and assistance to this effect. We can advise prisoners on representations to show a reduction in risk when security category is reviewed. In cases where a prisoner is unhappy about their categorisation or decision in their review, an appeal can be made to the Prison Service, which we can assist with also.

Youngs Law can advise prisoners on representations to show a reduction in risk when security category is reviewed – and how best to comply with the requirements of the review board, including presenting achievements on any sentence plan at a review board hearing, or appealing a Parole Board decision in cases involving knock back, where a request to move to open conditions has been refused.

The purpose of categorisation according to PSI 40/2011 is to assess the risks posed by a prisoner in terms of:

  • likelihood of escape or abscond;
  • the risk of harm to the public in the event of an escape or abscond;
  • any control issues that impact on the security and good order of the prison and the safety of those within it.

The prison should then assign to the prisoner the lowest security category consistent with managing those risks (s1.1 psi 40/2011).

Why Choose Our Prison Lawyers?

In the Prison Law Department at Youngs Law, we have a wealth of extensively experienced Solicitors and Legal Executives who would be pleased to provide advice, assistance and advocacy for your category reviews. Our Solicitors and Legal Executives regularly go in front of the review board and advocate for client’s progressive move or open conditions, and obtain successful results.

Our prison law team is highly successful at representing all clients serving all types of sentences, irrespective of the offence committed.

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For further information and confidential advice from our team of specialist solicitors, please contact a member of our team or call us on

033 33 582 580

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