Moving to your cell/wing

When all the initial procedures have been completed you will be taken to your wing. It is likely, but not certain, that you will be taken to an “induction wing” where all new prisoners spend the first week or two of their sentence. The prison is midful of the Covid19 risk a new inmate may bring, and you will be held with other new prisoners as a type of “quarantine”, which in prison terminoligy is called “cohorting”.  You will be escorted by a prison officer to your wing and handed over to the wing staff.  These wing officers will show you to your cell and will introduce you to your cellmate. You will be given the bare minimum of bedding, blankets  and pillow, a plastic plate mug and cutlery along with an issue of prison clothing. The wing officer will then lock you in the cell leave you to your own devises.

The issue of prison clothing you will be given is just the basics of 3-4 pair of socks, 3-4 pants, 2 jogging bottom and tops and 3-4 tee shirts. These clothes are exchanged on a one for one basis each week and many (most) prisoners either have their own clothes brought in or buy their own clothing whilst in prison. The rules on this vary from prison to prison and are explained on the individual prison pages.

Who your cellmate will be is a matter of luck. You will have been asked during the reception process if you smoked or not and you should have been placed with a similar person but this isn’t guaranteed. Your new cell mate may have been in the system for a couple of weeks, a couple of years or could have arrived the same day as you. There is no predetermined hierarchy so you have to agree with your cellmate which bed/bunk is yours, cupboard space etc. It is the same with cleaning the cell, most are filthy when you arrive as the turnover of prisoners is rapid and nobody has time to clean their cell when they are moved out.

The cell will be one of three types unless you have a serious medical issue in which case you may have been placed on the medical wing. There are two types of double cell, bunk beds or “flat doubles” which are two single beds. Both of these have a loo but there is little or no privacy and ventilation is poor non existent. If you are lucky you will get a single cell, but that means you are on your own which isn’t so good if you want to talk to somebody! The cells will also have a small TV with a limited choice of channels.

Most wing officers are sensible people and want a peaceful trouble free existence so they do think who they put in a cell together. You won’t be put into a cell with a violent individual or a sex offender, neither will you be put in with a rabid Millwall fan if you are fervent West Ham supporter, but you will be placed in a cell with a prisoner without reference to your age, colour, creed or background. Both cell inmates have to compromise and adapt, and this is difficult over the first weeks of your sentence.

Return to the first weeks in custody