Is the sentence given in court the time they will serve in prison?

The sentence expiry date (the date on which it ends) is calculated from the date the sentence is given. All custodial sentences (apart from life sentences) include time served in prison and time served in the community, so the person will not be in prison for the whole of the sentence.

Types of prison sentences

How much time will they spend in prison? 

For offences committed after April 4 2005 the prisoner will be released at the halfway mark of their sentence regardless of its length and is on license until the sentence expiry date, unless they have received:

  • A life sentence.
  • Indeterminate sentence for public protection.
  • Extended sentence for public protection.

What else might effect the amount of time served in prison?

Time spent on remand may be deducted from the time spent in prison but time spent in police custody will not. If a prisoner breaks prison rules they may receive additional days in prison, meaning that their release or parole eligibility will be put back. 

Where will my loved one go?

If their court appearance was in the past few days, you can ring the court and ask to speak to the cells, who will be able to tell you which prison they went to.

If you are trying to trace a prisoner who has been in prison for some time, or someone who has been transferred to another prison, you can contact the Prisoner Location Service.

They will only take queries in writing or by e-mail.

It takes about 2 weeks as the Prisoner Location Service will check that the prisoner is happy for you to know where they are before they reply.

Email: [email protected]

Or Write to:

Prisoner Location Service PO Box 17594 Birmingham B2 2QP 

You must include:

  • your name, or the organisation you represent
  • your date of birth
  • your address including postcode
  • name of the person you want to find
  • the reason you want to find them - for example you’re their solicitor, or a family member
  • any other names they may have used
  • their date of birth

To find out more about sentencing please click here.