Visiting FAQs

If you are a relative or friend of someone in prison within the north east, and you are looking for information and support, please start by visiting HERE and reading the frequently asked questions about visiting each prison.

You may also wish to check out the frequently asked questions below, about the services and support available.

Locating a prisoner

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.

Booking a visit

Each prison has their own 'booked visits line' or email which you must use to book a visit in advance.

Your friend / family member is entitled to a reception visit when they first go in to prison and regular visits if they are being held on remand.

Once convicted, some prisons send a VO (visitor order) to visitors to enable you to book and you must take this with you on your visit, together with the required ID (on the back of the VO or check with the centre).

For details of how to book a visit please see information on the relevant centre.

Waiting at the visitors' centre

As well as a friendly welcome, visitors' centres provide somewhere for you to wait before your visit.

Our centres provide toilet facilities, a space for children to play, hot and cold drinks and snacks, change for your visit (in some cases) and lockers (where you can leave your stuff while you go into the prison, as in most cases, you are only allowed to take in change for the tea bar and any essential medication).

Please see information on the relevant centre.

Going in to the prison

This can sometimes involve queues and delays as there is an ID check / search process which varies slightly from prison to prison. This enables the prison to check that you are who you say you are and that you are not taking any drugs or other prohibited articles into prison.

If you are on your own and would like someone from Nepacs to go with you in to the prison, please ask and we will try and arrange this.

Please see information on the relevant centre.

The visit

During domestic visits prisoners must sit at their tables and not move around the room.

You will be able to get refreshments from the tea bar and children will be able to stay with you or go and sit in the play area, where there are lots of activities on offer.

There are some security rules e.g. cups must have lids on and food in open packets e.g. crisps, can't be sold - these are to stop illegal drugs being passed on.

Prison Officers ensure that this is a very safe environment and everyone has a vested interest in visits running smoothly.

After the visit

After your visit you can come back down to the visitors’ centre to pick up possessions from lockers and chat to staff. Please let us know if you have any concerns about the person you have been visiting and we will help you contact the prison to make sure that your concerns are addressed.

Help with the cost of visiting prison

The Assisted Prison Visits Scheme (APVS) can help you with the cost of travelling for visits.  

Find out more here: Assist Scheme at HMPrisonService.gov.uk

If you are receiving benefits or are on a low income, you may be eligible to claim help with travel expenses when visiting a prison from the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU).

Visitors' centre staff and volunteers will be pleased to help you fill out forms.

Find out more about help with the cost of visiting prison here.

Keeping in touch

There are a number of ways of keeping in touch with your loved one while they are in prison, including letters, telephone calls, emails and the E-postman service. Find out more here.