HMP_DurhamDurham Visitor Centre


HMP Durham Visitors' Centre,

Click on the blue question below to see the answers appear underneath. 

Contact details

Visitor centre: 0191 3323676
Visitor centre email:
Prison: 0191 3323400
Visits booking line: 0191 3323417 Line open Monday 9am-2pm, Tuesday to Friday 9am-12pm.
Visits booking email:

When can I visit?

Prison visiting times are:

  • Mon, Thurs and Fri 2pm to 3.45pm
  • Tues 9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 3.45pm
  • Weds  9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 3.45pm and 5.15pm - 6.45pm
  • Sat and Sun 9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 3.45pm

Length of visits: Prisoners are entitled to a minimum of 1 hour for a domestic visit. 

How can I book a visit?

At HMP Durham all visits (including reception or first visits) must be booked either by telephone or email.

You can call 0191 3323417 to arrange a visit. The phone line is open:

  • Mon 9am - 2pm, Tues - Fri 9am – 12 noon

Or you can email a booking request to

Anyone who is tagged will need a letter from the Governor before they can visit, which they will need to bring with them on the visit.

When booking a visit, you will be required to supply the following information:

  • Prisoner name, date of birth and number (unless it is a reception visit, and you don’t know it yet)

  • 1st and 2nd choice of visit date

  • All visitors full names, dates of birth and addresses  

If booking online, you will receive an automated acknowledgment of your request.  Please note this is not confirmation of your booking; you will receive an additional email with confirmation details. You will need to keep this confirmation email and it is a good idea to bring a copy of it with you on your visit.  It can take up to 72 working hours to respond to an email, therefore if you need to make a change to a booking quickly please ring the booking line, or allow 5 working days’ notice when sending your request.  The booking service is not available on a weekend/bank holidays.  

The Written Application Form method is available in the visitors’ centre. Visitors can complete one form while they are waiting for their visit and once submitted the team will process the booking and the form will be ready for collection after the visit is finished.   This facility is only available on a Monday to Friday afternoon and a Wednesday evening.

Visits must be booked at least 48 hours in advance to a maximum of 28 days.  Any changes to visits already booked must be made no later than 48 hours before the visit.

IMPORTANT:  Continuous changes to bookings already made may result in future requests being declined.

Where can I wait when I arrive for my visit?

When you arrive at the prison you must go to the Nepacs Visitors’ Centre. The centre is open:

  • Mon, Thurs and Fri 12.30pm - 4.00pm

  • Tues 8.30am - 4.00pm

  • Weds 8.30am - 7.15pm

  • Sat and Sun 8.30am - 12noon and 12.30pm - 4pm

Afternoon visitors at weekends cannot check in to reception until 12.30pm.

Weekday afternoon visitors cannot check in to reception until 12.30pm.

You can sit anywhere you like. There is a small café where you can buy drinks and snacks (coins only, notes not accepted). There are toilets, baby changing facilities, disabled access and disabled parking (limited spaces), and a play area for younger children.

Children under the age of 18 years are not permitted to remain in the visitors' centre when their parent/guardian are on a visit. 

Inside the Prison visits area, Nepacs provide a play area and refreshments.

You will need £1 for a locker key deposit.

Each adult is allowed to take up to £20 on a visit, but this must be in coins. It would be helpful if you bring change with you.

Staff and volunteers at the visitor centre are all there to help you.  We will do our best to assist you with any question or concern you have, and to provide information and support.

How can I get there?

Plan your route and check you will arrive in good time for the visit. If you are driving, you will need change for the parking meters (free on Sundays!).

The bus and train station are both about a 30 minute walk from the visitors’ centre.


There is a limited bus service between the bus station on North Road and the bottom of Old Elvet (5 minutes' walk from the Visitors’ Centre). Ask at the bus station for more details.

Park and ride

There are three park and rides in Durham which cost £2 per day. Tel 0191 3741702 or email

Walking from the train or bus station, directions:

From the train station, walk down the hill and turn left. Go straight across the roundabout in front of you, into ‘North Road’, which leads into the city centre.

From the bus station in North Road, turn right onto North Road

  • Head towards the city centre.

  • Where North Road forks, follow the slip road to the right (near Iceland) into the City Centre. This leads into ‘Silver Street’, a pedestrian area.

  • Head across Framwellgate Bridge and up a slight hill into the Market Place. Turn right at the Market Place, into ‘Saddler Street’ (next to NatWest).

  • Follow this road for a short distance and turn left where the pedestrian walkway leads down a hill (there are some steps at the top of this hill). You will go across Elvet Bridge and there are some traffic lights at the bottom of this hill.

  • Head straight across the road into ‘Old Elvet’. The Royal County Hotel is situated on the left hand side. Follow this road for approx. 1/4 mile. The Visitor centre is located on the left, almost opposite the main entrance to HMP Durham.

Where can we park?

Parking in the visitor centre is for permit holders only.  We would suggest if you can, to park at the top of the hill where it is cheaper.  (The visitors’ centre will be on the left hand side of you).

There are two spaces available for disabled drivers at the visitors’ centre. In order to use these spaces you will need to advise staff at the reception desk, who will ask you to complete our parking form quoting your car registration number and your disability registration. The blue badge must be placed in the windscreen of your car.  Please note, the driver must be the holder of the disabled badge. If you do not register with our staff you may receive a parking ticket. 

What facilities are there for children?

There is a play area available within the visitors’ centre.  There is also a play area in the visits’ hall which is staffed by our play workers, who will provide activities for the children during the visit.

Please note the play area is not a crèche; parents should watch and be responsible for their children at all times. Please introduce your children to the play worker and let them know which table you are seated at. 

Children under the age of 18 years are not allowed to remain in the visitors' centre when their parent/guardian attends a visit. 

Do you run any special family visits?

Special father/child visits run every Thursday morning and special family visits take place during school holidays. 

A family learning visit also takes place on a Friday evening. 

These are additional to normal visits and are very popular.

Ask in the visitors’ centre for details.

What ID documents will I need?

You will be called, usually by number, when the officers are ready to check your ID and take your photo. Everyone over 16 needs to have ID checked on a first visit. Only adults and children over 10 will have their photos taken.

You will not have to have your ID checked each time you visit, but you should always bring it with you just in case the computers go down!

The following forms of ID are acceptable; all must be valid:    

  • Passport                                                                               

  • Driving licence    

  • Benefits book                                                                    

  • Senior citizen public transport pass issued by Local Authority

  • European/EC identity card    

  • Birth certificate

  • Annual public transport season ticket with photo card                                         

  • Employers ID card or Student ID card - but only if this clearly shows the name of the visitor and the employer or educational establishment, and has a photograph or signature, and if the employer named on the card is known to exist.                                                                                                       

Or three or more of the following:                                                       

  • Birth certificate 

  • Marriage certificate                    

  • Citizen card

  • Cheque book or credit/debit card (counts as one form of ID)

  • Employer's pass or ID card or Student ID card - not acceptable under list above

  • Young person's proof of age card

  • Rent book                     

  • Foreign identity or resident's card (other than EC ID cards)

How often am I able to visit?

Unconvicted remand prisoners are allowed three visits per week from Sunday to Saturday. These can be booked by you for a time that suits you.           

Convicted prisoners are issued with one visiting order (VO) every 14 days.

Prisoners who have earned enhanced status will be given 2 extra visits per month. These privileged visiting orders (PVOs) are issued on the first of the month after enhancement and cannot be used for weekend visits. They must be booked in the month they are issued. 

Who is allowed to visit?

Apart from on the reception visit, you cannot visit unless you are on the prisoner's approved visitor list.

Anyone who is on the prisoner’s approved visitor list may book a visit. If you are not on the approved list then you should ask the prisoner to submit your details to the prison - the prisoner will need full name/address/date of birth/relationship. The prison then approves you and adds your details on to the system. Getting added to someone’s visitor list usually takes 7-10 days. This system is designed to give the prisoner some choice and control over who visits him.

Please note: children/babies must also be on the approved visitor list before attending.

No one aged 17 or under is allowed on a reception visit and a maximum of 3 adults can attend.

On a standard visit, there is no limit to children (17 years or under), however for seating purposes in the visit room children may have to stand if there are three adults attending.

What can I take into the visit?

Each adult is allowed to take up to £20 on a visit, but this must be in coins. No notes are allowed. The money is to buy drinks and snacks in the visits room. You can buy anything you like for the prisoner to eat or drink, but he cannot take anything back to his room at the end of the visit. The visitors’ centre are not able to exchange notes for change.

Before you go up to the visits area you must empty your pockets and put all your property in a locker. The only things you can take with you are your coins and a locker key.

You will need £1 for a locker key deposit. Please ask at the reception desk in the visitor centre for a key.

If you have anything else with you, you will be sent back, and may miss the visit.

Baby/toddler items

You cannot take nappies, tissues and wipes with you to the prison visits room, however Nepacs are able to supply you with what you need. Please ask a member of staff at the tea bar or the play area.

Baby milk can be taken over to the prison visits room, however the milk must be in a sealed carton with an empty bottle.  Food jars/cartons are not allowed.

If you have any prescription medicines that you will need on your visit or any other queries, please talk to the staff in the centre before you go up.

Will I be searched?

All visitors to HMP Durham are subject to searching, which is similar to a domestic airport.

Visitors are searched by staff of the same gender, although male visitors can be searched by female staff, unless they request otherwise.

Children and babies are also subject to search. If your baby is searched, this will be done by a female officer in front of you. You may be asked to remove their nappy, but a new one will be provided. If your baby is wrapped in a blanket, the blanket will have to be left in the search area.

Passive drug dogs are sometimes deployed at Durham: if your child is frightened of dogs you should inform staff. The dogs are friendly and do not bark or jump up.

Visitors with religious clothing or headwear are subject to searching. This is done in private by staff of the same gender. You will be given plenty of time to replace your headwear.

How will I be searched?

You will walk through a portal/scanner then patted down by a member of staff. Coats and jewellery will be checked by hand or machine. 

Please note, if you need the toilet once you are on the visit, you will have to go through the search process again, however you will also be asked to remove your footwear so your feet are checked and you will be asked to open your mouth.

Can I take anything in for the person I am visiting?

(Please note: No property accepted on evening visits)

You can hand in clothes for the prisoner on a reception visit, just after you have your ID checked.

At Durham the following items are allowed: (remove all packaging and tags):                              

  • 1 T-shirt
  • 1 sweatshirt or jumper
  • 1 pair of gym shorts
  • 1 jacket or coat
  • 1 pair of trousers/tracksuit bottoms or jeans
  • 1 vest
  • 7 pairs of socks and underwear

 Please note: Navy blue and black clothing is not permitted (does not include underwear).

The officers will check through any property you have brought with you and bag it up ready for delivery. You will not give it to the prisoner yourself, but they will usually get it on the same day.

Smart court clothes and shoes can be handed in on a visit without an application but you must be booked on a visit.  Please be aware that this is the only occasion where footwear is permitted.

How can I send money to the prisoner?

Send Money to a Prisoner digital service.

Family and friends are now able to log on to an online electronic system to send money to a prisoner.  When you log in you will need to set up a ‘payee’ very much like you would when you do your internet banking.  To do this you need the prisoner’s number and date of birth.  Once you have input these into the online form and the system has checked this against NOMIS, if the details match, the money will then appear on the prison’s internal spreadsheet (an admin tool) the following morning for approval.  The system also gives you an option to pay via a debit card. 

Once the money has been approved it should appear within 1-3 days in the prisoner’s bank account.

By transferring money online it means the money is transferred more quickly, there are less processes and there is no physical handling of money for staff. 

Click here for the online information/ site to start sending money

Durham Prison are still accepting cheques and postal orders. 

How much money can I send in?

Prisoners are allocated £3 a week regardless of their status. They earn extra if they work within the prison. You may send in as much as you like but the amount they can access each week depends on their status.

On remand:  Entry level £35.00, Standard £47.50, Enhanced £51.00     

Sentenced:   Entry level £10.00,   Standard £15.15, Enhanced £25.50

How can I write to or contact the prisoner?

You can write to the prisoner, using his name and number. A prisoner will keep the same prison number during his time in prison and will not change, even if he changes prison.

If you want to contact a prisoner but are not sure of his number or whereabouts, you can contact the Prisoner Location Service with his name, date of birth, relationship and reason you would like make contact.

You can also contact the prisoner using email.

Find out more HERE.

Can he phone or write to me?

The prisoner is able to telephone his family/friends during association (time away from their cells), if he has bought phone credit and had your telephone number cleared with security. Be aware that it is not always possible for the prisoners to get to the phone and when they do there may be a long queue.

They are also able to write cards or letters, or send an email (see How can I write to or contact the prisoner? above).  

Who do I contact if I have concerns about a prisoner?

If you have any serious concerns about the person you have visited then you should call the prison switchboard on 0191 3323400, and ask for Safer Custody. All information will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.  

If you have been pressurised to bring anything illegal into the prison then you can leave a confidential, anonymous, message by calling 0191 3323400 and selecting option 4.

Staff and volunteers at the visitor centre are all there to help you.  We will do our best to assist you with any question or concern you have. Nothing is too small! 

Can I get help with the cost of visiting?

If you are on benefits or a low income you may be able to get help with the cost of visiting. Ask a member of staff in the visitor centre for a booklet and claim forms (and keep any petrol receipts or tickets you have from todays travel).

Find out more HERE.

Or you can contact the Assisted Prison Visits for more advice.

Tel: 03000 632 100 (open 10.15am to 11.45am and 2.15pm to 3.45pm Mon - Fri)

Email: or visit

It is a good idea to fill in a Proof of Visit form to take up on your first visit, just in case you decide to make a claim.

For more information about visiting please get in touch with the visitors’ centre on 0191 3323676.

Send us an enquiry