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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Government departments and health authorities: Contracted Out Services (COS) Headings: COS Heading 46 - Operation of prisons, detention centres and remand centres, including medical services

The origins of this heading lie in the outsourcing of the running of a prison to a private sector company - custodial services, rehabilitation and education, building maintenance, catering etc. However, it can extend to discrete activities within a prison.


  • Operation of prison shops
  • Prisoner transport
  • Operation of prison hospitals


  • Hostel accommodation