Frequently Asked Questions


This page will endeavour to answer some of your FAQs including advice on areas including: 

  1. Early Days in Custody

  2. Contacting Home

  3. Property

  4. Safety and Decency

  5. Healthcare

  6. Complaints Process

  7. Offender Management


Early Days in Custody

What happens when a prisoner arrives at HMP Forest Bank?
On arrival prisoners will be taken into the welcome room to be greeted by a 'reception insider' (fellow prisoner) who will ask them how they are feeling and advise them of the new prisoner process. They will be offered a free two-minute phone call to let loved ones know where they are. (please note any prisoners who have restraining orders/sex offences will not be allowed this phone call)

They will then follow the reception process which includes taking fingerprints, headshots, next of kin details and ID card etc. They will also receive a bedding pack and given the option of purchasing one of our welcome canteens. 

What if they don’t have any clothing/ money when they arrive?
Prioners who don’t have any clothes will be issued with two sets of prison clothing. They will also be given the option of purchasing a welcome canteen and paying it back once they start employment.

Where do they spend their first night?
Once they have completed the reception process the reception insider will accompany the prisoner to the early days in custody wing (any prisoner undertaking detox will be referred to a rehabilitation wing).  

Over the next five days they will complete an induction programme giving them a full introduction to the prison and all of the services we offer and behaviours we expect. After they have completed the induction process they will then be escorted onto one of the main wings and the induction insider will introduce them to the wing insider who will give them a tour of the main wing and again explain all the facilities and help them to feel comfortable. 

What about Incentives status?
All prisoners will be on the standard status when they arrive for the first time. Prisoners who have transferred from another prison and are enhanced will be able to keep that status so long as we have confirmation from the exiting prison.

Contacting Home

How do Prisoners contact their families?
On day one of their induction they will be given a contact form to fill in. They are permitted to submit 10 social numbers and five legal numbers. These will be checked for safeguarding and then passed onto our finance department to upload. Pin numbers can take up to 48 hours to be loaded onto the system if restrictions are in place. Prisoners are then permitted to add one number every 3 days until they reach the maximum of 20 social numbers and 10 legal numbers. This can be submitted via the wing kiosk app. This duration is simply to allow our finance department enough time to manage the requests.

Can prisoners write to families?
Prisoners can send mail to their families/legal representatives by posting it into the red mailbox on the wing. Prisoners are advised to leave the letter unsealed and all letters will be checked by the night staff for safeguarding. Any prisoner on restrictions will have their mail sent to our Public Protection Unit for further checks.

When can a Prisoner request a visit?
A Prisoner can apply for a face to face visit via the app on the wing kiosk. Alternatively, they can request a Purple visit (virtual) through the app on the wing kiosk.

What does a family member need for a visit?
When family and loveed ones visit the prison they must bring an appropriate form of photo ID.

Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult who must provide the required forms of identification. The accompanying adult has responsibility for the child and for giving assurances of the child's identity.

The list of acceptable ID can be found on the website here.

Visitors must also adhere to the prison dress code which again can be found on the website.

What if a family member has a question?
There is a FAQ document on our website with a range of subjects however if an answer cannot be found they must email or write to the team at

HMP Forest Bank
Agecroft Road
M27 8FB

Responses can take up to 20 days.
If it’s a concern for safety, they can ring Safer Custody on 0161 925 7000 ext 2183



How does a Prisoner receive money?
Families can send money to a resident via Please note the sender must be on the prisoners contact list (visits or pin phone) to send money in otherwise it will be returned. This is for safeguarding and corruption reasons.

Prisoners will  have a cap of £900 on their account any payments sent in that takes the account over that amount will be rejected.

In severe cases where a family can’t go online, they can apply for an ‘exemption’ form which must be approved via the prison director and they can send it in directly to the prison.

Can a priosoner earn money in prison?
Yes, we encourage all prisoners to engage in employment and as such they will be paid for their time. Wages are paid weekly and are reflected against the particular job role. Prisoners are also paid if they engage in education on a regular basis.

Prisoners will be given the option to apply for both opportunities via the wing kiosk once they arrive on the wing after their induction.

They are not permitted to work whilst they are on the early days in custody wing.

How does a prisoner receive property?
Please refer to the prioner property section of the website here 

How does a prisoner buy clothes?
Prisnoers are issued a catalogue from Sports Direct from which they can order items. Only items from the catalogue are permitted within the prison.

Can a Prisoner receive books?
The prison accepts books for residents sent directly from friends or family, or via our approved retailers. These are Waterstones, WH Smith and - we do not accept books purchased via Amazon. All books are subject to security protocols and must be sent separately, they cannot be accepted as part of a property parcel.

How does a Prisoner order his canteen?
The prison shop provides a canteen service where prisoners can order things such as Vapes, Newspapers, Snacks, Toiletries, and other desirable goods. 

Safety & Decency

What if a family member or cellmate is seriously concerned about an individual?
If family members are concerned that an individual is at risk of harming himself or others, they can ring Safer Custody on 0161 925 7000 extension 2183. This line is manned from 07.30-4.00pm and a member of the team will be able to assist straight away. If they need help out of this time, please call 0161 925 7000 and ask for comms stating is an urgent resident safety concern. They will need the residents name and prison ID to hand.

All cells have emergency buzzers so cellmates can report serious incidents of harm that way pressing the emergency call will request a member of staff immediately. For general concerns speak to the wing manager or the wing insider who could do a welfare check.

How often do prisoners get to shower?
Prisoners have the opportunity to shower everyday during their regime allocation.

Will Prisnoers get exercise?
Prisones have access to one hour’s exercise per day either indoors or outdoors (weather permitting). 

How does a prisoner get a haircut?
Prison approved clippers are available on the canteen to purchase but more often than not there is usually a prisoner on the wing who has a pair and will be the unofficial barber.

Are prisoners just left once they leave induction?
prisoners will recieve three welfare checks per day day from staff and have the opportunity to speak to staff and the wing insiders (peer support) on association or at request. Any resident who appears vulnerable will be supported accordingly following prison processes.

All prisoners are also assigned a keyworker. Key workers meet regularly with prisoners, either every week or every two weeks.
The role of the key worker is to help prisoners settle, feel safe and remain calm throughout their time in custody.

What if a prisoners wants to move cell because he feels unsafe or is being bullied?
The prisoner must inform a member of wing staff, this will then be passed to the wing manager who will have a chat with the resident and decide if and where to move him too; assessing the situation and seeing if any further support interventions are needed.

If a Prisoner  follows a certain religion can he continue that within the prison?
Yes, we have a dedicated chaplaincy team with chaplains from all faiths. They will visit prisoners within the first 24 hours and introduce themselves and offer any pastoral support. Prisoners are permitted to bring in approved holy items such as books of faith or religious statues. The chaplaincy can offer services, readings, book study and general support.


How does a prisoner know if he needs medication?
Any medical issues will be discussed upon arrival to the prison. If a prisoner has transferred from another establishment his medical record will follow him to HMP Forest Bank.

If a resident suffers from substance misuse, he will be assessed on his first night on and then will complete a detox programme a dedicated wing.

How does a prisoner see a doctor or dentist?
A prisoner can make a request via the triage app on the wing kiosk. A member of healthcare may contact them beforehand to assess their needs. 

How does a prisoner get mental health support?
Forest Bank has a dedicated mental health service which again be accessed by all prisoners. Alternatively, a member of staff can refer a resident if they feel they are in need of support. Prisoners will be assessed, and future interventions put in place to support them through their journey.

Complaints Process

What if a prisoner wants to make a complaint?
All prisoners can easily submit a formal complaint without fear of penalty. Complaint forms are available on the wings and are emptied daily by a designated member of staff who is not a residential Officer (currently the night Oscar 1).

Prisoners have the right to make a complaint under confidential access (in a sealed envelope). Prisone should place their completed complaint form in a sealed envelope addressed to the person they wish to consider the complaint in the complaints box.

All complaints must be answered by staff politely and as positively as possible. All replies should be legible, considering the individual needs of the resident and based on accurate and up to date information. Below is a guide on reply timeframes.


Time Limit

Submission of complaint by resident

Within 3 months of the incident or the circumstances coming to the resident’s attention

Stage 1 response

5 working days

Stage 1 response to complaint against member of staff

10 working days

Stage 1 response to complaint

involving another establishment

10 working days

Stage 1 response with an equality aspect

5 working days

Re-submission by resident of complaint (appeal) stage 2

Within one week of receipt of the stage 1 response                              

Re-submission (appeal)

When answering re-submission appeals, someone senior to the person who answered Stage 1 should respond

5 working days

Stage 2 response

5 working days

Stage 2 response to complaint against member of staff

10 working days

Stage 2 response to complaint

involving another establishment

10 working days


Confidential access complaint to governing governor

5 working days

Confidential access complaint to Deputy Director of Custody

6 weeks

Response to complaint about a reserved subject

6 weeks





What if a prisoner wants to report a type of discrimination including racial slurs, comments about sexuality, disability?

Prisoner can fill in an DIRF (Discrimination Incident Reporting Form) on the wing and it will be submitted to the Prison Diversity Officer. They will then do a formal investigation and provide a response and outcome. Their decision is approved by several independent parties including Head of Performance, Director and the Independent Monitoring Board to ensure fairness and consistency. They can also use the normal complaints process above.

What if a family member wants to make a complaint?

If a family member isn’t happy with the service, they have received they need to put it in writing and send it to

Complaints PDU
HMP Forest Bank
Agecroft Road
M27 8FB

This will be given to the relevant head of function to complete. If their response isn’t satisfactory it will be passed to the Deputy Director to complete.


Offender Management

What is offender management and how do they work with prisoners?
Within 5 working days of arriving at HMP Forest Bank prisoners who are sentenced and serving a sentence of more than 12 months will be allocated by the case administrator a key worker and an offender manager which is organised by geographical area. 

For high risk sex offenders, medium & low risk NPS cases, the case will also be managed by the offender supervisor. The team will manage the case from when the sentenced resident arrives until they are released/transferred, they will be the first port of call for any queries relating to OMU.

8 months prior to their release date, the case will be then transferred to either a Community Offender Manager or the National Probation Service who will work alongside the dedicated key worker and the Offender supervisor.

What is the role of a Offender Supervisor?

The Offender Management Unit deals with various aspects of a resident’s sentence within the prison. 

This will include:

•           Sentence planning reviews and setting targets

•           Issuing public protection paperwork

•           Category D, HDC assessments

•           Parole reports

•           OASys risk assessments and reviews

•           MAPPA reports and attending MAPPA reviews

•           Completing discharge paperwork

•           Attending parole hearings

OMU Jargon Buster

CRD (Conditional Release Date) - The date a resident will be released when serving a sentence of 2 days or longer.


What is an OASys report?
The OASys report is used to assess why a prisoner offends, how likely it is they will re-offend, and what can be done to stop them offending. It may cover issues such as a history of alcohol abuse, drugs misuse, mental health issues or other health issues.

OASys assessments should be completed within the first 8 weeks of a sentence and a copy can be sent to a resident by their offender manager upon request. This will include their sentence plan. 

Do OASys reports need to be reviewed?
OASys assessments are only reviewed following significant events or changes in circumstances. This may include completion of programmes, If a resident is involved in a serious incident in custody that could lead to extra changes, or for serious incidents in custody that could lead to the discretion of the offender manager who will consider if the significant event is linked to the residents risk.

What is HDC?
If a prisoner is serving less than 4 years, home detention curfew (HDC) allows them to finish their sentence at home whilst being electronically monitored.  This is subject to conditions and eligibility. There are certain offences which are unsuitable for release on HDC.

If a Prisoner does not have a release address can he still apply for HDC?
NACRO BASS (Bail Accommodation and Support Service) can offer accommodation for people released on HDC. They have properties right across the country, in single gender houses.

They Will:

•           Share with no more than three or four people.

•           Have their own bedroom.

Whilst staying with NACRO BASS they will have a dedicated support officer who will help them to meet the terms of their HDC Licence.

To be assessed for NACRO BASS accommodation a resident should speak to your Offender Supervisor.

If a prisoner does not agree with his sentence calculation/release dates who do they contact?
A prisoner's sentence calculation will be checked by the custody team on arrive at HMP Forest Bank.

Any errors are usually found during this process, and their release date with be amended accordingly. However, if a prisoner still feels the sentence calculation is incorrect, they should submit a general application along with any supporting evidence to the Custody team, who will then investigate.

How does a prisoner find out if they are eligible for ROTL?
The best way to find out if a prisoner is eligible for ROTL is to contact the custody team and/or check PSI13/2015. There is a set criteria for ROTL eligibility which includes a ROTL eligibility date and certain sentence requirements. Despite popular belief you do not have to be a cat D to apply for ROTL. Application Forms for ROTL are available from the wing.

 Can a prinsoer attend a ROTL board?
The boards are normally held by the Offender Management Unit, who will have reports from the wing officer, Offender Supervisor and other departments/agencies involved.

They will normally decide based on this information however, if they feel the need clarification on anything, they will arrange to meet with the resident. 

If they are refused ROTL they can appeal the result using a COMP1 complaint form which can be found on the wing. This will then be investigated by the Controllers team who will then write to the resident to inform him of the appeal result. If they are still dissatisfied with the decision you should then appeal to the prison and probation ombudsman (PPO).

  If a resident is subject to immigration, can they see anyone from the UK Border Agency?

HMP Forest Bank has a Foreign National Coordinator who deals with our prisons Immigration queries and prisoners who are being held upon immigration matters.

A resident is not from this area, so why have they been sent to HMP Forest Bank?

There are several reasons why they may have come to HMP Forest Bank, these include, security reason, and overcrowding within establishments.

The majority of transfers into HMP Forest Bank are allocated through the population management section, and there is often a need to move prisoners  into establishments that are not necessarily within their resettlement area.

How can a prisoner apply for a transfer?
Complete a “General Application Form” which will then be submitted to the OCA department. The resident should specify which establishment that they would like to transfer to and explain their reasons for this request. Residents will be transferred as per the offender flow depending on time left to serve. If they have less than 16 months left to served, they may stay at FB.

 Is a prisoner permitted to transfer on compassionate grounds for a family member who is seriously ill?
It is possible to have compassionate circumstances considered when applying for a transfer. Each application will be considered on its own merit; however, a compassionate transfer would be considered to be a close family member with a serious medical condition. All supporting evidence of the family members ill health should be sent to OMU/PDU. We will make every attempt to transfer them to an establishment closer to that family member.  However, we are reliant upon the other establishment agreeing to accept the resident and the transport contractor being able to provide a vehicle to facilitate their move.

How will they know the outcome of a transfer?
They will receive notification from OCA explaining whether they have or have not been accepted. If the requested establishment has refused to accept them, they will be notified of the reasons for this. If they are accepted again, they will be notified, however they should be aware that even if they are accepted all moves are subject to spaces and transfers being available.

If a prisoner is in their last 12 months, when will they transfer in preparation for their local release?
We will make every attempt to transfer prisoners to an appropriate resettlement establishment, however, this is subject to them accepting the prisoner and the transfer cannot be guaranteed.

Where will they transfer to for their local release?
Their local release area will depend on which probation office they are engaging with. They will therefore be allocated to the identified resettlement establishment in accordance with this.

What if a prisoner is not planning on residing in the same area as their probation office? How can they get transferred? 
Unfortunately, we cannot transfer them to another establishment for local release without a new probation area taking over their case. If they are planning to move areas, then they will need to contact their external probation offices to discuss their options.