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HMP DARTMOOR Prison Regime Info


Princetown Yelverton PL20 6RR image of HMP DARTMOOR prison

Phone No.

01822 322000

Governor / Director

Terry Witton


Male Cat. C


South West

Operational Capacity


Cell Occupancy

Single and double

Listener Scheme


First Night Centre



Chair: Graham Stoate
Vice Chair: Jacqueline Sharpe

Visitor Info Page

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Dartmoor is a Category ‘C’ training prison for adult male prisoners. It has 6 wings including two for vulnerable prisoners and one designated for resettlement. The prison has a poor image and has, until recently, attracted adverse comments from prison inspectors but they say it is a safer prison now. There are accessibility problems around the prison for men with disabilities.


The prison lies on the western edge of Dartmoor National Park. The buildings and around 50 acres of land are leased from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Built in 1809 Dartmoor prison held French and American prisoners of war. It became a criminal prison from 1850. Most of the buildings date from the late 19th century but 3 wings have recently been fully refurbished. Integral sanitation in all but one wing, and a new kitchen has been built.

Following a Performance Test in 2003 Dartmoor now operates under a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Dartmoor has done much in recent years to shake off its historically austere image.

Dartmoor offers cellular accommodation on 6 wings; despite the grey stone exterior, the inside is clean, welcoming and well kept. Some wings are used for specialist reasons such as voluntary drug testing, vulnerable prisoners, induction, and Resettlement Unit where a small community of prisoners live, working on projects outside of the prison as part of the establishment's Resettlement Strategy. 

  • A wing: vulnerable prisoner unit (holds 132)
  • B wing: vulnerable prisoner unit (holds 134)
  • D wing: integrated vulnerable prisoner and mainstream prisoner wing (holds 122)
  • E wing: resettlement unit (holds 49)
  • F wing: enhanced mainstream wing (holds 47)
  • G wing: mainstream wing (holds 157)

Reception Criteria

Category C Trainer, Adult. Type 2 Healthcare.



  • In-cell power
  • Own clothes (Enhanced, on the wing only)
  • PlayStation (Enhanced only)
  • Television (£1 per week)


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Mon: 08:15 - 12:30, 13:30 - 17:00 and 17:30 - 20:00
Tue: 08:15 - 12:30, 13:30 - 17:00 and 17:30 - 20:00
Wed: 08:15 - 12:30, 13:30 - 17:00 and 17:30 - 20:00
Thu: 08:15 - 12:30, 13:30 - 17:00 and 17:30 - 20:00
Fri: 08:15 - 12:30 and 13:30 - 17:00
Sat: 08:15 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:15
Sun: 08:15 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:15


Mon: 17:30 - 20:00
Tue: 17:30 - 20:00
Wed: 17:30 - 20:00
Thu: 17:30 - 20:00
Fri: 13:30 - 17:00
Sat: 08:15 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:15
Sun: 08:15 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:15

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Sports available include;

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Circuit Training
  • Light Circuit Training
  • Over 40s
  • Over 50s
  • Remedial
  • Soccer
  • Soft Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Weight Loss Programme

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Library services are provided by Devon County Council.

There are Library sessions 7 days a week.

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Every prison has a Chaplaincy department managed by a Co-ordinating Chaplain and supported by admin staff, other Chaplains and ‘Sessional Chaplains’ (faith leaders who visit for specific services or sessions). The Chaplaincy is considered an important part of the prison structure. When a prisoner arrives at a prison they are usually seen by a Chaplain within 24 hours and are invited to register as a specific religion (if they haven’t already done so) and can change their declared religion at any time.

The Chaplaincy does far more than just pastoral care; they often are able to lend radios, musical instruments and typewriters; they may take part in Sentence Planning and are available as a ‘listening ear’ and are able, sometimes, to help with domestic problems. Most Chaplaincies run various courses and activities which may or may not have a religious theme. Every prisoner has the right to follow their religious practices and attend Chapel for services pertaining to their declared faith (even when segregated).

The Chaplaincy are able to organise faith activities for all main religions (as recognised by the Prison Service; this does not, at present include Rastafarian as a specific religion) and contact faith representatives to visit individual or groups of prisoners for the purpose of religious activities. The chaplaincy can also intercede on matters of religious dress, diet and artefacts. A full list of permitted artefacts can be found in the Glossary Section under Religious Artefacts.

You can contact the Chaplaincy by letter or by telephoning the main prison number and asking to speak to the Chaplaincy. The Chaplaincy works as part of the prison and cannot, therefore, guarantee confidentiality (they can explain this to you in detail). Prisoners can contact the Chaplaincy in person or by Application.

Chaplaincy Statement of Purpose (HMPS)
The Chaplaincy is committed to serving the needs of prisoners, staff and religious traditions by engaging all human experience. We will work collaboratively, respecting the integrity of each tradition and discipline. We believe that faith and the search for meaning directs and inspires life, and are committed to providing sacred spaces and dedicated teams to deepen and enrich human experience. We contribute to the care of prisoners to enable them to lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release.

The Co-ordinating Chaplain at Dartmoor is: Bill Birdwood

Dartmoor has a full-time Anglican Chaplain and Catholic Chaplain, with a part-time Free Church Chaplain and visiting Muslim Chaplain. There is also a Sikh visitor.

Facilities exist for any other faith group including; Mormon, Pagan, Hindu and Jehovah Witness.


The IMB say; "The Chapel is large and used for music, drama groups and meetings as well as Christian services. The Multi-faith room, by contrast, is small and dingy."

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Visiting Specialists

  • Acupuncture
  • CPN
  • Dentist
  • InReach
  • Optician
  • Physio
  • Podiatry
  • Stop Smoking

NHS Healthcare Information for Dartmoor

Prison Healthcare Manager
Tel: 01822 892000


Healthcare Complaints
Healthcare provision in public prisons has transferred to NHS England who will commission ‘Offender Health Services’. This means that the method of complaint has changed. Inside Time have published a factsheet explaining the new process for making a complaint about healthcare in public prisons.
Prisoners should still follow the internal complaints procedure before making an official complaint to NHS England. The PALS system will no longer operate.
Click Here to download our Factsheet


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Strode College
Church Road, Street, Somerset BA16 0AB
Tel: 01458 844400

Career Information & Advice Services (CIAS)
Tribal Education Ltd
Head office: 87-91 Newman Street, London W1T 3EY
Tel: 020 7323 7100

Classes include;

  • Art
  • Basic Education
  • Clait
  • Computer Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Drama
  • ESDL
  • Key Skills
  • Language
  • Life and Social Skills
  • Literacy
  • Maths
  • Music
  • Numeracy
  • Open University



OFSTED inspect education establishments from schools to colleges to prisons. They inspect education facilities within prisons and have inspected HMP Dartmoor.

Inspection judgements
Inspectors use a four-point scale to summarise their judgements about achievement and standards, the quality of provision, and leadership and management, which includes a grade for equality of opportunity.

Key for inspection grades

  • Grade 1 Outstanding;
  • Grade 2 Good;
  • Grade 3 Satisfactory;
  • Grade 4 Inadequate.

Click Here for further information on how inspection judgements are made.


Scope of the inspection
In deciding the scope of the inspection, inspectors take account of the provider’s most recent self-assessment report and development plans, and comments from the local Learning and Skills Council (LSC) or other funding body. Where appropriate, inspectors also consider the previous inspection report , reports from the inspectorates’ monitoring visits, and data on learners and their achievements over the period since the previous inspection.

Last Inspection Date: 11/02/2008


Summary of grades awarded

Effectiveness of provision: 3
Capacity to improve: 3
Achievement and standards: 3
Employability training: 3
Literacy, numeracy and ESOL: 3
Personal development and social integration: 3
Quality of provision: 3
Leadership and management: 3
Equality of opportunity: 3

To read their report click here

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Prison Workshops
Contract Services
Desk Top Publishing

Employment includes;


  • Braille
  • Bricklaying
  • Catering
  • Contract Services
  • Farms
  • Furniture Manufacture
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Industrial Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Plastering
  • Plumbing
  • Sports Studies
  • Textiles

Employment is supported with NVQ or City & Guilds vocational qualifications.

Vocational training includes;

  • Electronics
  • Brickwork and Carpentry courses up to City & Guilds NVQ level
  • Painting & Decorating courses
  • Industrial Cleaning
  • Desk Top Publishing


An outstation of Strode College; Dartmoor are also partners of Duchy College to offer outstanding learning opportunities.


The Story Book Dads editing suite employs three learners working towards an Open College Network qualification at level 2 in sound and audio production.


Learning aims recorded for Skills Funding Agency OLASS
Adult Literacy
Adult Numeracy
Award for Progression
Basic Construction Skills
Business Enterprise (QCF)
Certificate for Domestic Electrical Installers
Certificate for IT Users (CLAiT Advanced)
Certificate for IT Users (CLAiT Plus)
Certificate for IT Users (New CLAiT)
Certificate for Progression
Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Mowers
Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Turf Maintenance Equipment
Construction Award
Customer Service
Diagnostic Test in Literacy, 3 glh
Diagnostic Test in Numeracy, 3 glh
Diploma in Bench Joinery (QCF)
Diploma in Bricklaying (QCF)
Diploma in Painting and Decorating (QCF)
Diploma in Plastering (QCF)
Diploma in Requirements for Electrical Installations (BS 7671: January 2008)
Dry Stone Walling
ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 1)
Food Safety in Catering (QCF)
Free-Standing Mathematics Qualification: Foundations of Advanced Mathematics
Functional Skills English (QCF)
Functional Skills Mathematics (QCF)
Health and Safety in the Workplace
ICT Skills for Life
Interview Skills
Key Skills in Application of Number - level 2
Key Skills in Communication - level 1
Key Skills in Communication - level 2
Key Skills in Communication - level 3
Key Skills in Improving Own Learning and Performance
Key Skills in Problem Solving
Key Skills in Working with Others
Non-externally certificated - Entry Level, Arts, Media and Publishing (SSA 9), PW A
Non-externally certificated - Entry Level, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A
NVQ in Starting a New Business Enterprise
OCN Entry Level, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
OCN Level 1, PW A, Arts, Media and Publishing (SSA 9)
OCN Level 1, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
OCN Level 2, PW A, Arts, Media and Publishing (SSA 9)
OCN Level 2, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
OCN Level 3, PW A, Arts, Media and Publishing (SSA 9)
OCN Level 3, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
Personal Career Planning
Principles of Manual Handling
Speaking and Listening Skills for Adult Learners
Understanding Nutrition, Performance and Healthy Eating
Using ICT (Entry 3) (QCF)

Vocational study not leading to a recognised qualification, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)

Current Wages

Employed: £7.00 - £9.25
Education: £9.25
Retired: £7.00
Long term sick: £7.00

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  • CALM - Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it
  • ETS - Enhanced Thinking Skills
  • P-ASRO

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Uniquely for a closed category C prison, HMP Dartmoor also has a stage 1 and 2 Resettlement unit that facilitates external projects and progress to other stage 2 units such as HMP Leyhill. Resettlement is emphasised across a wide range of initiatives including Prison Service Plus, which addresses issues such as housing, employment and education. They work closely with PACT, JobCentre Plus, Connexions and many other statutory and voluntary organisations.


Family Days Available


Guardian Has To Stay


Own Children




Age Limits

No age limits

No of Visitors Permitted

3 adults plus any children that meet the criteria

Family ties are supported through the Story Book Dads project as well as enhanced family visits which offer prolonged relaxed and enjoyable visits each month that do more to repay the inconvenience and expense of travelling to this location. 


The parent-child bond can be hard to maintain when an offender is in prison, but Play in Prisons is a project producing positive results at the Service's three Devon establishments.

“Prisoners' children are, in their own way, innocent victims of crime,” says Andy Keen-Downs, Director of the charity PACT (Prison Advice & Care Trust). It's a sentiment few could disagree with, and the thinking behind PACT's Play in Prisons project, which is running a series of family days at the three Devon prisons: Exeter, Channings Wood and Dartmoor.

“For some children, contact with a father in prison may not be possible, or desirable,” continues Andy, whose organisation has helped develop successful homework clubs and supervised play services in prisons.

“But for the vast majority, maintaining a loving family bond with a father is vital to a child's wellbeing and sense of identity.”

It was with this in mind that the Service agreed to facilitate the three-year project, which is funded by the National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund. Launched in July 2008, this year has been a busy one so far, with a total of 44 events scheduled for 2009.

At family days, prisoners get to spend quality time with their partners and children in a setting unlike the conventional visits arrangements. While still supervised by staff, opportunities to play sports, games and music are all available, and families can sit and eat together halfway through the day.

The benefits for prisoners are obvious, but their own enjoyment is not the purpose of the events. Encouraging better parenthood is a major motivation behind Play in Prisons and an educational module on the importance of playing with your child currently being developed by PACT.

Alison Lucas, HMP Exeter's Head of Reducing Reoffending says: “We've recognised the need to teach parenting skills to offenders for many years now as an approach to break the cycle of offending.

“Family visits have previously taken place for enhanced prisoners, but the opportunity for standard regime prisoners to meet with their children and families while supported by the wealth of knowledge and experience of our partner agencies is relatively recent.

“The visits are a joy to watch, with so much affection, activity, bonding and normality. The feedback from prisoners, partners and their children is glowing.

“Statistics show that strong family bonds can keep an ex-offender from reoffending, as well as minimising the damage experienced by the children in such a family.”

Encouraging more children of school age and above to visit their fathers in prison was a major factor in starting up Play in Prisons. More important was to make it a positive experience for both parties.

PACT research conducted over the last two years has shown that children frequently stopped visiting prison once they reached school age, contributing to a weakening of the bond between father and child.

“Many fathers in prison have themselves had very poor experience of family life,” says Andy.

“Many have been in care, or have suffered neglect or abuse, and sometimes, they don't know how to play with their children in a positive, nurturing way.

“They may have forgotten how to play, or have lost confidence. But play is a serious business. If we can support parents and children to play together, to communicate, to share precious times and show one another love, then our hope is that we can help build stronger families and a safer society.”

(Prison Service Magazine - Feb 2009)

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Ministry of Justice Performance Rating for this prison: 3
This is on a scale from 1 (serious concerns) to 4 (Exceptional) and is worked out by the Ministry of Justice taking into account 34 criteria such as overcrowding, purposeful activities etc. A score of 3 is considered a good performance. Published quarterly.

Average weekly hours of Purposeful Activity: 24.1 (2010)
This figure is supplied by each prison to the Prison Service. Actual hours are usually dependent on activities etc. and should be taken as the maximum time either in workshops or education over a whole week.
Both of these figures are published retrospectively by the MoJ and HMPS and may have changed since the figures were published but they give a simple comparison between prisons.


Annual Budget: £14,800,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £35,691

*The annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare.

Parliamentary Information
CONSTITUENCY: Devon West and Torridge
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Geoffrey Cox (Conservative)

Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA


Local Authorities
Devon County Council
County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 4QD
Tel: 0845 155 1015
Click Here for link

West Devon Borough Council,
Kilworthy Park, Drake Road, Tavistock, Devon PL19 0BZ
Tel: 01822 813600
Click Here for link

You can contact the local authority on matters such as libraries, environmental health, trading standards, food hygiene, social services, education and electoral registration.

Trading Standards
The nearest Trading Standards department is at:
Devon County Council, Trading Standards, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 4QH
Tel: 08454 040506

Click Here for link

Trading Standards can help with problems with purchases such as weights and measures, ‘best by’ dates, pricing & faulty goods.



Most prisons now have PIN phones. Your relative or friend usually needs to apply to have your name and number on his/her telephone account. You will usually receive a call from the prison to check who you are and to ensure you are happy for them to call you. Prisoners cannot receive telephone calls.

There is no restriction on who prisoners can call except in the case of calls to journalists intended to be broadcast. In some cases child protection measures may mean extra checks on who they call.

Prisoners can normally make calls only during ‘association’ periods. Some prisons limit the length of time a call can last to avoid queues and people being disappointed. Prisoners’ telephone calls are very expensive; calls to landlines now cost 10p per minute and 37.5 p to mobiles (compared to 2p in a public phone box). In most prisons the phone calls can be listened to and/or recorded.

In general prisoners phone calls follow the same rules as for letters in as far as who can be contacted and what can be said. If the rules are broken the prison may terminate the call.

If a prisoner is newly convicted or transferred they should be offered an immediate ‘Reception’ phone call to tell you where they are. It may take a few days for numbers to be transferred or added.

When you write to a prisoner you must include your full name and address. In most prisons the letters are searched and can be read before being given to the prisoner.

You can write about anything but letters must not be obscene, name ‘victims’, or be a threat to discipline or security. Do not enclose any items with letters. Make sure you put sufficient postage to cover the costs (anything bigger than A5 counts as ‘large’). Prisoners can normally receive a ‘reasonable’ number of letters per week.

If you send greetings cards these should be of reasonable size and not padded or pouched. Do not send musical cards. If you are sending more than one card put them all inside one outer envelope, this saves postage. Remember to include your full details (you could put your details on a ‘Post-It’ note stuck to the card or include a letter which has your details).

Always put the prisoner’s full name and prison number. If the person has been moved their mail will be forwarded.

On conviction or transfer a prisoner should be given a ‘Reception’ letter to write to tell you where they are.
Prisoners are given a free letter each week to post out, they can send more, but at their own expense. Some prisons allow you to send in stamps.

You can send stamped address envelopes (address to yourself), for the prisoner to reply, to any prisoner in any prison.

Prisoners are not allowed to send you letters or information to be posted on social networking internet sites.

Remember all letters are opened and checked and may be read.

Full information about prisoners’ correspondence can be found in Prison Service Instruction 2011-006

You can usually send in photographs but in some prisons these must not include any image of the prisoner. Child protection measures may mean that some prisoners may not receive pictures of children, unless they are their own and were not ‘victims’. If you send pictures of children include an explanatory note identifying who the children are and their relationship to the prisoner.

It is not a good idea to send cash, this can get ‘lost’ in the prison. Prisons prefer Postal Orders, but you could send a cheque. Make these payable to ‘H M Prison Service’, write your name on the back and also the prisoner’s full name and prison number. Any money sent which is deemed to be ‘anonymous’ can be stopped.
Money you send is paid into the prisoner’s ‘Private Cash’ account and they get access to a certain amount (depending upon IEP) each week [currently £15.50 for Standard prisoners]. Include your full detail in an accompanying letter or note. It takes about a week for the money to be credited to the prisoner.

For full information about visits please refer to our ‘Visit Info’ section for this prison. Visits are very important to prisoners. At most prisons you may not give any item to the prisoner. Any items you wish to give them must usually be posted to the prison, and often after the prisoner has placed an ‘application’ for authorisation to have it sent in. The items which can be posted in are very limited. Check with the prisoner first and wait until they confirm that you can post it.

If there is a serious emergency - close family serious illness, death, or other reason you need to inform the prisoner immediately, you should telephone the main prison number and explain the problem to the operator who will transfer you to the appropriate person. If you are unhappy about their response redial and ask to speak to the Chaplaincy. Prison staff will not pass on general messages but only critical and very urgent messages. You should provide full details of the prisoner including their number.

Support and Advice
There are many very good charities and agencies who offer support and advice to people with family or friends in prison. We have a special section ‘Help/Support’ which has details and contact information for many of these. Do not hesitate or feel shy about calling any of these; they are there to offer support and advice.

This service operates at this prison. Email a Prisoner enables you to send messages to prisoners, in the UK and Irish prisons that operate the service, from any computer, without any of the hassles of writing and posting a letter, and it costs less than a second class stamp!

Your message is delivered to the prison within seconds so that it can be delivered to the prisoner by the prison staff in the next delivery.

It is free to sign up to Email a Prisoner and only takes a few seconds - all you need is an email address (EMaP can help you if you don't have an email address).

Once a member you will be able to send a message to any prisoner in the UK or Ireland, provided you know their prisoner number, from just 25 pence per message.

Click Here for link to Email a Prisoner website

Monitoring and Inspection
Prisons Inspectorate
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) regularly inspects prisons and produces a report of their inspection with recommendations for improvements.
Click Here  to download a guide to inspections
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download the latest inspection reports for all prisons
Independent Monitoring Board
Each prison has an Independent Monitoring Board made up of local people who visit the prison regularly to check on the treatment of prisoners. They produce an Annual Report.
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download current and earlier IMB annual reports
Click Here  to download the IMB’s information leaflet; explaining who they are and what they do.
OFSTED, who check on teaching standards in schools also visit prisons and publish a report of their findings.
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download OFSTED reports for all prisons
Monitoring & Inspection
Our on-line Library has a special section containing information, reports and publications about the monitoring of prisons and related services.
Click Here  to visit the ‘Monitoring and Inspection’ section of our on-line Library
Information in this section has been kindly provided by the individual prison and the Ministry of Justice. This is supplemented with information from various government websites, Inspectorates and IMB reports and specialist departments within the Prison Service, government, and regional assemblies/parliaments.
Some of the data is published retrospectively: IMBs/Visiting Committees publish their reports up to 6 months after the end of the reporting period and at different times throughout the year, HMCIP publish their reports up to 6 months after the inspection. Population and performance figures are the latest published but can be considerably out of date.
Please Note: Information is constantly changing: The information on our website is regularly checked but if you have additional information, or if you believe that any of our information is incorrect or any links appear to fail please click on ‘Contact’, below.
Before acting upon any information you are advised to contact the prison directly to ensure there have been no recent changes.

Last Update: April 2014


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December 2014 Headlines
> Treat Prisoners as Human Beings, Not Criminals
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> Month by Month - December 2014
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> Take your first Steps to Success in 2015
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> From over the wall
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