Order Ref: 4550 Introduction, Page

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Performance Standard

5. This PSO underpins the Performance Standard on Religion.


6. This PSO applies to prisoners held in both publicly managed and contracted out prisons, and provides both mandatory instructions and guidance on religious provision.


7. This PSO comes into effect immediately.

Mandatory Action

8. This Order contains mandatory instructions and advice.
9. This Order must be held by Chaplaincy Teams and RRLOs, and should be available to all staff. Chapter 4 must be also be made available to reception staff.

Audit and Monitoring

10. Monitoring and audit will primarily be by audit of the Religion Performance Standard.

Contact points

11. Further information is available from:
Chaplaincy Headquarters

020 7 217 8960/8808

Prisoner Administration Group (Religion Section)

020 7 217 6298/6472


ELOs must record the receipt of the Prison Service Order – 4550 - in their registers as issue 158 as set out below. The PSO must be placed with those sets of orders mandatorily required in Chapter 4 of PSO 0001…

The accompanying PSI must be removed and the attached chapters placed in the relevant position of the RELIGION MANUAL

Issue no.


Order no.

Title and / or description

Date entered in set

ELO signature




Additional chapters (1;4 & annex 3 ) of the Religion Manual

Ken Sutton

Director of Resettlement



1.1 The Prison Service recognises and respects the right of prisoners to practise their religion. This chapter sets out the requirements for prisoners to participate in worship and other religious activities and to receive pastoral care.

1.2 The statutory requirements governing the observance of religion are laid down in Prison Rules 1999 and Prison (amendment) Rules 2000 and Prison (Amendment) (2) Rules 2000, rules 13-19, and in the Young Offender Rules, Consolidated 2000, rules 27-33.

Appointment of Chaplains and Ministers

1.3 Chaplains and Ministers of recognised religions must be available to prisoners. Where a minister of a particular faith is not available to a prison, advice must be sought from the Prison Service Chaplaincy HQ, the Religion Section of Prisoner Administration Group, or from the Religious Consultative Service for the particular faith, (see Annex to Chapter 3 for addresses)
1.4 Chaplains and Ministers must be appointed in line with current Prison Service guidance. Security clearance must be in place before the work of a chaplain or minister commences.
1.5 A consultation process must be in place with all faith ministers which enables the Chaplaincy Team and Establishment to work together smoothly and share resources. This is to enable the best use of resources and most effective ministry to prisoners and the whole prison establishment. The consultation process should normally be in the form of regular meetings of the whole chaplaincy team. The relevant operational manager should receive minutes or notes of the meetings, and be invited to attend from time to time, and especially in the case of difficulty or disagreement among the team.

Religious Registration

1.6 On being received into a Prison Service establishment, prisoners must be asked to state their religion and/or denomination, or to register as ‘Nil Religion’. Prisoners’ religion must be recorded on LIDS and F2050. Prison staff should ensure that this information is obtained accurately and respectfully.

1.7 The Governor must ensure that the Chaplaincy Team is informed of all new receptions as soon as possible by ready access to LIDS. Chaplains and Ministers must have access to prisoner information held on LIDS.
1.8 The Governor must make provision for a Chaplain or Minister to contact each prisoner, including those registered as ‘Nil Religion’ as soon as possible after the prisoner’s arrival in the establishment. The Chaplain or Minister making this initial contact should check the accuracy of the recorded information about the prisoner’s religious registration.

Good practice: Initial contact should be made when a Chaplain carrying out generic duties is next in the prison.
1.9 If the prisoner is not seen after reception by a Chaplain or Minister of his/her own faith, the appropriate Chaplain or Minister must be informed of the prisoner’s arrival:

  • Within seven days if no specific request is made to see the minister concerned

  • Within 24 hours if a written request is made to see the minister of the prisoner’s own faith.

1.10 A full list of prisoners registered in each faith must be sent out to, or communicated as agreed in writing with the individual minister, to the related Chaplain or Minister weekly, or at intervals agreed between the individual minister and the establishment.

1.11 A prisoner must not be subject to any form of discrimination or infringement of human rights by declaring themself a member of any faith or religion, or as belonging to none.
1.12 Written details of all religious provision must be available to new pisoners on reception.

Change of Religious Registration

1.13 A prisoner should notify his/her change of religious registration to the Governor in writing. The Chaplains or Ministers of both the religion originally declared and the new religious affiliation must be informed within seven days of such a change. The LIDS information system and the prisoner’s F2050 must be updated to reflect the change. The prisoner must be informed in writing that the documentation has been amended. An agreed pro-forma should be in use and personnel or departments who will update LIDS and the F2050 identified in each establishment. A specimen pro-forma is attached at Appendix One. See also paragraph 1.39.

Places of Worship

1.14 Chapels are used for all Christian denominations.

1.15 An identified area should be set aside for worship and/or meditation by members of other world religions. It is advisable that such areas are chosen having regard to their size, nearness to suitable washing/ablution facilities, convenience for observation or supervision by discipline staff without disturbance of the worship or meditation, and their location away from undue noise or disturbance. In setting up such a room, reference should be made to the views of all Chaplains and Ministers who will use it. Advice on setting up such a room (drawn up by the Advisory Group on Religion in Prisons) is attached at Appendix Two.
1.16 Where such an identified area as specified in 1.15 is not available, and where local agreement is reached between the chaplain, ministers and appropriate religious authorities, the chapel may be used for worship by other world faiths on a reviewable basis. The appropriate national faith advisors should always be notified of such an intention and involved in discussions and in any agreement reached. Written agreements on the removal and replacement or covering of such artefacts within the chapel as may be deemed necessary by any faith should be drawn up and signed by all parties involved.
1.17 Any use of designated places of worship for non-religious activities is at the discretion of the Governor in consultation with Chaplains and Ministers who use the area for religious observance. Places of worship should be kept clean and tidy.

Corporate Worship

1.18 A prisoner must be treated as belonging to the religion entered on LIDS and the F2050 and should have the right to practise this religion as detailed in subsequent chapters of this Order, having regard to section 1.20.

1.19 Provision must be made to enable all prisoners who choose to do so to attend the main religious observance of the week for the faith in which they are registered. Weekly corporate worship or religious observance should be available for a minimum of one hour.
1.20 All prisoners, excluding Rule 46, CSC and SSU and young prisoners segregated under Rule 45 are free to attend corporate worship of their declared religion. In exceptional individual cases authorised and recorded by the Governor or Medical Officer, prisoners may be excluded for a period not exceeding one month, and renewable thereafter. The following grounds may be stated:

  • Exceptional and specific concerns for the prisoner’s mental or physical health

  • The Governor judges that they have misbehaved at a time of worship or meditation

  • The Governor judges that their presence would be likely to cause a disturbance or a threat to security or control.

The Governor must inform the appropriate Chaplain or Minister after each decision. The decision will be noted in the prisoner’s F2052.

Good practice: There should be close liaison between the Governor and the appropriate Chaplain or Minister in arriving at such decisions.

    1. Where prisoners are located in special secure units and permission has been granted from Headquarters for corporate worship to take place in the unit, facilities must be provided for this.

1.22 Authorised worship, fasts and festivals must be observed, as detailed in the subsequent chapters of this Order, or circulated by Chaplaincy HQ or Prisoner Administration Group.

Pastoral Care

1.23 All prisoners, wherever they are located in the prison, must be offered pastoral care. Pastoral Care must be available on a daily basis to prisoners located in health care or segregation.

Prisoners should be offered help and counseling especially for family matters and preparation for marriage.
1.24 Prisoners must have access to the minister of their declared faith by application. The minister concerned must be notified of any such written application within 24 hours of the Chaplaincy being notified of the application.
1.25 The appropriate Chaplain or Minister must be notified immediately of a prisoner’s family bereavement, of seriously ill and/or suicidal prisoners and of the death of a prisoner. (See also PSO 2710 - Follow Up to Deaths in Custody.)

Chaplains and Ministers

1.26 Chaplains and Ministers must have opportunities for regular pastoral visiting. Prisoners of another denomination or faith, or registered ‘Nil religion’ may also make written application to see any Chaplain or Minister for the purpose of exploring or deepening their own faith or spirituality.

1.27 Prisoners who have made an application to see a Chaplain or Minister must be seen within 24 hours. Where a chaplain or minister who is part-time is specified, that minister must be notified within 24 hours, and the notification recorded in an agreed place.
1.28 The Governor must ensure that an effective system is in place for notifying the appropriate chaplain or Minister immediately of a prisoner’s family bereavement and wherever possible, involving the Chaplaincy in relaying the news and/or offering support and pastoral care to the prisoner.
1.29 The Governor must ensure that an effective system is in place for notifying the appropriate chaplain or Minister immediately of a seriously ill or suicidal prisoner.
1.30 The Governor must ensure that Contingency plans specify that the appropriate Chaplain or Minister is called in at once whenever a prisoner is near to death or has died, so that any ritual observances may be made at that time.
1.31 A Chaplain or Minister may contact a prisoner’s relatives with the prisoner’s consent, having regard for security issues and the relatives’ wishes in the matter. In accordance with local procedures and having regard to issues of security, special visits may be arranged.

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