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Advice & Support  > Keeping in Touch  > Visitors Guide
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Visitors Guide

The Prison Service is committed to making prison visiting as easy and relaxed an experience as possible.

Visiting times

The times when you may visit a prisoner depends on the individual prison. More information about visiting times can be found within each detailed prison page, to find a prison, use our locate a prison tool.


An unconvicted prisoner should be allowed visits on at least three days a week and each visit should last at least one hour. Convicted prisoners should be allowed a visit on reception after conviction and following this at least every two weeks with each visit lasting at least one hour. Wherever possible a prison will allow more time for each visit.


How to arrange a visit

If the person you are visiting is a convicted prisoner they will need to send you a Visiting Order. If you cannot use your Visiting Order you should send it back to the prisoner as it is transferable.

The names and details of all visitors should be included on the visiting order, particularly young persons under the age of 18 whose full name, date of birth and address should be included.


Some prisons may allow you to book another visit whilst you are at the prison. Usually, you will have to telephone the prison's booking service.


What you must bring to a visit

You must bring the Visiting Order and an approved form of ID. These normally include photographic identification such as a passport or driving licence. It is advisable to check with the prison you are visiting to confirm which forms of ID are acceptable.


How many visitors are allowed?

Up to three adults and any accompanying children should normally be allowed on a visit.


Are children allowed to visit?
Yes but some prisons may limit the number of older children on a visit due to constraints of space or seating arrangements. However, where it is in the best interests of the child to visit the Prison Service would encourage a flexible approach to ensure that all children who wish to visit their parent in prison can do so. We would advise any parent, especially those with large families or those with several older or teenage children, to discuss this at the time of booking the visit.

Generally speaking visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. In exceptional cases Governors have the discretion to allow those between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age to visit unaccompanied but only after parental consent has been given and a risk assessment has been undertaken.

Help with visiting

In certain situations visitors will receive help with travel costs under the Assisted Prison Visit Scheme. You will usually have to be either a close relative or a partner to qualify for this allowance.


More visits

A prisoner may be able to secure more visits through the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme.


Saving up visits

If a prisoner is in a prison a long way from home and family he can save up his visiting time. These are called accumulated visits.


What can a visitor expect when visiting

All visitors should expect to be searched. The level of searching depends on the category of the prison. If you refuse to be searched you will not be able to see the prisoner.


Visitors who attempt to give prisoners drugs will face prosecution.


What you can give prisoners

Please see the What Can I Take In? page.


Special rules for unconvicted prisoners

Unconvicted prisoners have more access to visitors than convicted prisoners. 


Race Relations Policy

The Prison Service adheres rigidly to the Government's race relations policy. Any infringements by staff, prisoners or visitors is not tolerated.

Special Requirements

It is advisable for visitors with special requirements, such as prescribed medication which they need to take in to the visit, wheelchair access or a hearing loop, to inform the prison when booking their visit. This is to enable the prison to make suitable arrangements in advance of the visit.


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External Related Links
National Association of Official Prison Visitors Go to National Association of Official Prison Visitors
Prison Advice and Care Trust Go to Prison Advice and Care Trust
Prisoners Families helpline Go to Prisoners Families helpline
Prisoners' Families and Friends Service Go to Prisoners' Families and Friends Service
Support, Help and Advice for Relatives & friends of Prisoners (SHARP) Go to Support, Help and Advice for Relatives & friends of Prisoners (SHARP)
HM Prison Service is not responsible for the content of external websites


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