Prisons have different rules on what you can have, what can get sent in, and so on. The only antidote is to expect to be annoyed.

Drop-in points (for friends or relatives to bring stuff for you) will be closed on random days; there may or may not be size limits; they will claim that something worth £2 is a “valuable item” because that is their category and therefore not allow it; they will say that a belt is allowed and then not allow it; a pillow with a clearly visible fireproof label will somehow not meet regulations. However the below may help:

Wear a cheap watch to court, one that you are happy to have in prison. You should be allowed to keep it on, and it’s a complete pain getting hold of one in some prisons. Not knowing the time may well start to drive you a little crazy inside, even though in bang-up, for the most part, it doesn’t matter.

Take everything you can in – they will go through your property and what you can’t keep you will get back at the end (very little ever goes missing from “property”).

What to take into prison

  • All toiletries Some they may not let you have because you can buy it on “canteen”, but anything they do let you have will save you money on canteen you can use for something else
  • Pens and pencils It varies what sorts are allowed in what prisons, so have a variety. As with above, you can buy them, but better to save the money
  • Underwear Take several sets (seven or eight)
  • Books As many as you can if you like reading
  • Stamps, writing paper, envelopes Again they may not let you because you can buy, but most guards will be fine with this)
  • A radio/alarm clock
  • Comfortable shoes assuming you wear smart shoes to court
  • Cash about £100

If you are going to move from bang-up to a Cat D, it becomes useful to have things like CDs, stereo, plenty of clothes, knife fork, spoon, bedding, towel, etc. But these are all things with low to zero probability of being allowed in a Cat B, so if you are sure that someone on the outside can bring those to the first Cat D visit, or send them in, don’t stress about taking them to prison – it will just be more stuff to deal with on the day of sentencing and more to go through with the guard. It is useful to have one set of normal clothes though (in addition to the suit or whatever you wear to court) to be able to wear in the days between arriving at Cat D and getting your first visit.