I was under the impression that only Dementors are guarding the prison of Azkaban and are only there to keep the inmates on their cells, though after reading again the following passage it put me into thoughts:

'One night, when (the Dementors) opened my door to bring food, I slipped past them as a dog. It's so much harder for them to sense animal emotions that they were confused ... I was thin enough to slip through the bars. I swam as a dog back to the mainland. I journeyed north and slipped into the Hogwarts grounds as a dog. I've been living in the Forest ever since.'

Prisoner of Azkaban; chapter 'The Servant of Lord Voldemort'

So Sirius says that he escaped from his cell when the Dementors brought him food.... I say what??? Dementors dont obey anyone, not even the commands of the Ministry of Magic.

So the actual question is, How is the Azkaban prison managed? e.g. who cooks the food? the inmates have blankets, who is washing these blankets etc etc

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    "Dementors dont obey anyone, not even the commands of the Ministry of Magic." what makes you say that?
    – LilyM
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:50
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    Attack on Harry... he was at that time in company of their "target" and did not desobey the ministry since they had for what we know no order to avoid harming sirius' accomplies... yes they changed their loyalty when Voldemort came back but that does not mean they did not obey the ministry before nor that they did not obey Voldemort after... (i don't remember the "attack" at the muggle born " trial" , did they disobey umbridge ?)
    – LilyM
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:44
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    This is just a détail of course, it does not change the sense of your question anyhow :)
    – LilyM
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:45
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    Harry's a bit of an special case as far as Dementors are concerned. It's already been stated by Lupin that the reason they're drawn to Harry in particular is because of the immensely traumatic experience of watching his mother die in front of him and then having a killing curse shot directly at his face (even though he doesn't remember it). Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 8:56
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    Only to the Dementors' unjust prosecution ;) Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 8:59

4 Answers 4


The Dementors manage Azkaban

We know that after Azkaban was established, the atmosphere therein was so terrible that even brief visits were next to unbearable:

They turned a blind eye to the inhumane conditions inside the fortress, permitted it to be magically enlarged and expanded and rarely visited, due to the awful effects of entering a building populated by thousands of Dementors.

It seems very unlikely, then, that any witch or wizard could work there, if the mere incidental effects of visiting were so terrible.

As such, the Dementors must take on the routine duties of "caring" for prisoners, such as providing them with food and protection from the elements. This might seem incongruous, given that the general interest of Dementors is solely in draining the emotions from anyone, but it is not so; if the Dementors keep their victims alive, they can feed on them for decades, whereas without providing food and water, the Dementors could only feed for weeks. The Dementors are of roughly human intelligence; they can follow such a strategy as long as they are not too hungry.

Your own quote indicates that Dementors bring food to prisoners. They can also bring blankets and so forth, so long as they have a source of such things.

It does seem likely that food is transported from the mainland, nonetheless. (As indeed other essentials may be). A rocky island in the middle of a freezing ocean is a poor location in which to grow crops, and one wonders whether the Dementors would be particularly inclined to do so in any case.

One more thing to keep in mind is that Azkaban is terribly inhumane. No one needs to cook food. Just drop off some bread and water and the Dementors can give it to the prisoners. Clean blankets? The prisoners will be lucky if they ever get a replacement, or perhaps even a blanket at all.

  • I took the liberty to edit the link and point it to the WizardingWorld site, to highlight that the source is still accessible and canonical. But now I'm wondering whether linking to the InternetArchive would actually be better in terms of long term durability ...
    – lfurini
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 10:32

The Ministry of Magic is the one who has control over Azkaban, whose jailers and the service staff are generally Dementors

The Ministry of Magic isn't really happy with a prison infested by Dementors, but a plan for a renovated prison seem to be a bit low in the priority list, according to this excerpt from Pottermore.

no Minister ever seriously considered closing Azkaban. They turned a blind eye to the inhumane conditions inside the fortress, permitted it to be magically enlarged and expanded and rarely visited, due to the awful effects of entering a building populated by thousands of Dementors.

As there is no clear canon explanation of proof of any other person doing a part-time or full-time job (there are visitors though) at Azkaban, it would be a safe assumption that the entire Ops(Operations) team consists only of Dementors (a safe inference to make from the below excerpt of Pottermore)

Experts who had studied buildings built with and around Dark magic contended that Azkaban might wreak its own revenge upon anybody attempting to destroy it. The fortress was therefore left abandoned for many years, a home to continually breeding Dementors.

There is also no canon proof of hierarchy model/structure inside the prison.

Reference: Pottermore's article on Azkaban, by JKR



Revisiting and Editing my answer here:

The island in the North Sea on which the wizard prison is built has never appeared on any map, wizard or Muggle. Perhaps the first resident, the sorcerer 'Ekrizdis', who practised the worst kinds of Dark magic, constructed a fortress and lured Muggle sailors there to torture and murder them. After his death, the various concealment charms placed on the island faded, and the Ministry became aware of the mysterious site's existence.

Looking up Ekrizdis, we find that he was alone in the fortress of Azkaban, practicing the darkest of Dark Magics. He lured, tortured and killed Muggle sailors who passed the fortress. When he died, the concealment charms he placed on the fortress lifted and the Ministry were able to discover it. When the Ministry arrived, they found it populated by Dementors. So it stands to reason that the Dementors were once human, the muggle sailors that Ekrizdis tortured. Maybe they didn't serve Ekrizdis directly, but they certainly co-existed for a time.

Those who entered to investigate the island came across Dementors. Fearing the potential reprisals of these dark entities, if anyone tried to evict them from their home, the Ministry decided to let the sizable colony stay, unmolested and unchecked.

The Ministry decided to let the Dementors stay at Azkaban because they didn't want to let these dark creatures loose upon the world.

When Damocles Rowle was elected Minister for Magic in 1718, he insisted on using Azkaban instead, seeing the Dementors as an advantage because using them as guards would save expense, time, and trouble. This plan was eventually put into motion and despite protests, Azkaban remained the prison of the wizarding world, mostly because of the complete lack of breakouts and breaches of security. Ever since, the Dementors served the Ministry of Magic as the guards of Azkaban, as it let them feed on the emotions of the prisoners within its walls.

The Dementors served the Ministry because the Ministry let them feed on the emotions of the prisoners.

Although a certain degree of the wizarding world could rest easy knowing that Dementors guard Azkaban, thus making it virtually impossible for dangerous criminal from escaping, others believe that the Dementors are untrustworthy due to the potential of them changing allegiance to any dark wizard who could offer them more victims than the Ministry.

The only reason the Dementors followed Voldemort anywhere is because Voldemort promised them more souls to harvest than the Ministry could. Their allegiance literally lies with the highest bidder.

But that isn't to say they are completely mindless. They are certainly capable of following orders and maintaining a prison. The Dementors ARE the management of Azkaban.

Answering you actual questions: How is the prison managed? By Dementors. Who cooks the food? The Dementors. Who washes the blankets? The Dementors. It's not like they sit around doing nothing until somebody comes over and says "Oi. Do this." They have a level of autonomy.

  • hmmm, they are not close to "human" they are dark creatures creaed by dark magic. i wouldnt define them as employers of the ministry of magic as long as the dont obey... they are just isolated there, plus serving a purpose.... i think you got the story wrong.... they never served the ministry, they fear the ministry..... they followed Voldemort willingly because they knew they would much more freedom with him to kill and feast on despair and agony. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:03
  • Though this is not an answer to the question, its more like a contradiction to me saying that Dementors obey none.... Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:05
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    I am saying that all these things that you wrote should be in the comments not as an answer because it is not an answer... the actual answer is your last three lines, and which as an answer is kind of.... hmmmm.... well telling that a dementor cooks, is something i just seem hard to believe.... Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 8:54
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    What's your explanation then? If it's not Dementors, what other Creature would be able to exist around them long enough cooking food and washing sheets? Humans and House Elves would go insane, so unless you've got a steady supply you can switch in week after week, I fail to see how anything OTHER than a Dementor could possibly do the work you describe in the presence of Dementors. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 8:59
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    What is my explanation???? I AM THE OP!!! LoL man really... xD if i knew i would make it Q&A style...... i can only speculate until someone posts a well based thesis... i could though pressume, that there are elves or that everything is being prepared elsewhere and magically delivered to azkaban at which point dementors destribute them..... that sounds much more logical than "The dementor puts on the chef hat and asks Belatrix if she wants her meat medium or well done"..... xD Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 9:34

It is the dementors' own interest to keep their feed-source well fed and looked after. Surely it took them time to learn the how-to the Pottermore article mentions there were lots of death in the first decades, between 1718 (establishment of prison) and 1747 (Diggory's death) but pretty much all the deatheaters survived between 1981 (trials) and 1995 (first mass escape). Which means they did a bang-up great job on keeping everyone alive, especially considering the number of deaths outside of Azkaban during that time.

But then, there's the Ministry. Unlike the dementors, Ministry people are not interested in keeping either the inmates nor the dementors well-fed. And I think we can be sure 100% of the outer management (sending food, blankets, etc.) is managed by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

  • The first part is true. It actually is in the Ministry’s interest to keep the Dementors well-fed though…otherwise, they might leave Azkaban and start preying upon respectable wizards. And while leaving the inmates in Azkaban certainly shows that they have little concern for the well-being of prisoners, they still might draw the line somewhere (say, actively starving prisoners to death). Also, some quotes might be useful.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 0:20

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