Keeping in touch with family and friends can help prisoners cope better with being in prison, and make it easier for them to settle back into normal life after they are released.
Letters and phone calls
Prisoners can send out one free letter every week. The cost (paper, envelope and postage) is paid for by the prison.
Prisoners can also send out as many letters as they want at their own expense and receive an unlimited number of incoming letters. Under prison rules, some prisoners may be restricted to one outgoing and one incoming letter each week.
Prisoners can buy stationery and stamps from the prison shop.
The prison uses a credit phone system.
If a prisoner wants to make phone calls, they must provide the telephone numbers of the people they want to call. They must also have enough money in their personal cash account held at the prison.
Visiting a prisoner
You can only visit a prisoner at certain times, and you must be ready to identify yourself and be searched by prison staff.
It helps to be familiar with the following visiting procedures before you go.
Booking a visit
The prisoner must fill out a visiting order before each visit. They must book the visit at least 48 hours in advance.
If the prisoner hasn't made a booking you will probably be turned away if you try to visit.
There are different timetables for social visits and professional visits to prisoners. Check the timetable documents below.
Download prison social visits timetable (size 154kb)
Download prison professional visits timetable (size 149kb)
Proving your identity when you arrive
When you arrive at the prison for the visit, you'll be asked for photo ID. You can bring any of the following:
- driving licence
- pass with photo ID
You will also need to bring identification for any child who is visiting with you:
- birth certificate
- proof of age pass
- bus pass
- student card
You can't take your mobile phone into the prison, but lockers are provided where you can leave your phone and any other items safely during your visit.
Being searched and what to expect
Everyone who visits a prisoner will be searched by prison staff when they arrive.
Searching usually involves a sweep with a metal detector. Sometimes a more detailed search will be carried out, but only with the prison governor's permission.
If you have a child or baby with you, they may be searched too, but only with you present.
If you go to the toilets during your prison visit, you may be given a 'rub down' search before and after.
Taking items for a prisoner
If you want to leave items for a prisoner, the prisoner must have filled out a handing-in form at least 48 hours before your visit.
There are restrictions on what you can take, and all items will be searched and recorded before being given to the prisoner.
These items are not allowed into the prison:
- anything which may be used in an escape
- items that are a security risk
- children's toys
- mobile phones
- cameras or recording equipment
- food and drink, including chewing gum
- computer discs
- anything listed as not allowed on the notice to visitors (displayed in the visits room)