How to book a visit
You will need to book a visit for the person you’re going to see making sure you have their name, prison number and date of birth, this can be done through the Gov.uk website — https://www.gov.uk/prison-visits
You can also book visits by calling the prison directly.
If you are having difficulty booking a visit you can telephone the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 who will be able to give you advice about booking a visit. You will need to give them information about how long you have spent on the phone trying to book a visit.
Which prison are they in?
If you don’t know where the person you want to visit is, you can email Prisoner Location Service who may be able to location your loved one — subject to conditions.
Preparing for a visit
You should check that you know where you are going. You may want to arrive early, as there will be security to go through.
You will also need a photographic ID i.e. passport or driver’s licence for when you arrive at the prison.
You’ll be allowed to take some money with you to purchase some food and drinks from the prisons shop during the visit for you and the person you’re visiting. You can contact the prison to confirm the maximum amount you’re allowed to take to the visiting area.
You should be aware that you will not be able to hand property directly to the prison. If you would like to hand something in for the person you’re visiting, it would be useful to call the prison to ask if this is allowed to avoid disappointment.
Will I get searched?
Yes, your bags and pockets will be searched. You may also be given a rub down search and asked to open your mouth. All searches should be carried out in a polite and respectful way.
What happens during the visit?
You will be allocated seats and you normally have to remain seated.
You can usually embrace at the beginning and end of the visit.
Officers will be present and may listen to your conversation.
You cannot usually smoke in the visits hall.
The rules for visiting should be clearly displayed in the prison. The visit can be refused or cut short if you break any of the prison visit rules. If you are a threat to prison security or are causing concern to other visitors, you may also find the visit is cut short or you are offered a closed visit.
Further information on visits this can be found below:
Complaints about visits
Visitors should be treated professionally and with respect. If you feel you have been discriminated against or treated discourteously, you can write to the governor of the prison. The governor is expected to reply to you within 28 days. There is no formal complaints procedure for people visiting a prison.
More information on how to make a complaint and who to complain to should be displayed in the visits area of each prison.
Financial assistance for visits
You may be able to get help with the costs of visiting someone in prison. If you are a close relative, partner or the only visitor and have a low income, you should contact the Assisted Prison Visits Unit to see if you qualify for help.
More information and contact details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/help-with-prison-visits