The term prison cell or holding cell refers to the accommodation of a prisoner in a prison or police station. Prison cells generally are small, with three cement or brick walls and an open side secured with a steel plate, or more commonly steel bars and some type of door (swinging or sliding). There is usually only one door, which locks securely from the outside of the cell, to prevent escape. Prison cells are typically designed so that none of the fixtures or furnishings can be broken. This is accomplished by anchoring furniture to the walls or floor, as well as using stainless steel lavatories and commodes. This aids in preventing vandalism or the making of weapons.
There are a vast number of prison and prison cell configurations, from simple police station holding cells to massive cell blocks in Supermax facilities. In any case, detainees are monitored in an effort to prevent violent or criminal acts from being carried out. This can include guards, CCTV's or restraints.
When being detained in any prison cell, whether it be a local (Police Station), regional (County Jail) or national (Federal Prison) a detainee must abide by the rules set forth. Failure to adhere to prison protocol results in various penalties. On arrival at any prison level the detainee will have all personal effects and clothing confiscated and logged into storage. This aids in controlling the prison population as well as preventing contraband, such as weapons, drugs or cash, from entering the prison.
In the United Kingdom cells in a police station are the responsibility of the Custody Sergeant, who is also responsible for logging the detainees and allocating him or her an available cell. Custody Sergeants also ensure cells are clean and as germ-free as possible, in accordance with the Human Rights Act.