HMP_DurhamDurham Visitor Centre

Address:

HMP Durham Visitors' Centre,
Durham,
DH1 3HU

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

Contact details

Visitor centre: 0191 3323484 or 0191 332 3676

Use contact form to email HERE  (you cannot use this email address to book visits - see email below)

Nepacs helpline: Freephone 0800 012 1539 Monday and Friday 12noon - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am - 2pm.                                     

Email: support@nepacs.co.uk    Text: 07983 437 457

Prison: 0191 3323400

Safer custody: If you have any serious concerns about a person in HMP Durham you should call the prison switchboard on 0191 3323400, and ask for Safer Custody or email safercustodydurham@justice.gov.uk   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.

How can I book a visit?

Visits are booked by the prisoner using the kiosks on each wing.  

The booking team will then contact the chosen visitor to confirm the visit date/time. This could be by either email, text or phone call.

If you have any questions please contact the visitors centre on 0191 332 3484 or 332 3676.

Prisoners who are not convicted or who are on remand are entitled to pre-book 3 visits per week. These can take place at any time during the published visits periods but only one may take place every weekend.

Convicted prisoners are entitled to 2 visits every 28 days. Only one visit may be used on an alternate weekend day.

When can I visit?

Prison visit times are:

  • Monday - 2pm to 4pm
  • Tuesday - 9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday - 9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 4pm
  • Thursday -  2pm to 4pm
  • Friday - 2pm to 4pm
  • Saturday and Sunday - 9.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 4pm

The visiting times are a guide only, there is no guarantee of entering or leaving the visits hall at these times. These times are subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control.

Check out details further down this page for information on who can visit and how many visitors can attend.

Who is allowed to visit?

Up to 3 people can visit, including children. You cannot visit unless you are on the prisoner's approved visitor list.

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.

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 needs to have ID checked on every visit. Only adults and children over 10 will have their photos taken.

Please note that you will have your ID checked each time you visit, so you should always bring it with you!

Social visitors have the option to present one photographic ID document from List A:

  • Passports
  • Identity cards from an EU or European Economic Area (EEA) country
  • UK photocard driving licences
  • EU or EEA driving licences
  • NI Electoral identity cards
  • US passport card
  • Proof of age card recognised under PASS with a unique reference number (This includes the Citizen ID card)
  • Armed forces identity card
  • UK biometric residence permit (BRP)

Should they be unable to present an ID document from List A, they may present one ID document from List B, supported by one document from List C:

List B:

  • Home Office travel document (convention travel document, stateless person’s document, one-way document or certificate of travel)
  • Older person’s bus pass
  • Freedom Pass
  • Proof of age card recognised under the Proof of Age Standards
  • Scheme (PASS) without a unique reference number (please refer to List A where a unique reference number is present)

List C:

  • Birth or adoption certificate
  • Education certificate from a regulated and recognised educational institution (such as an NVQ, SQA, GCSE, A level or degree certificate)
  • Rental or purchase agreement for a residential property (signed and dated)
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Bank, building society or credit union current account card (on which the claimed identity is shown)

All forms of ID must be originals, photocopies will not be accepted. If visitors fail to bring identification they will not be allowed into the prison.

For children the following forms of ID are acceptable: birth certificate, passport, child benefit letter or tax credit letter as long as they carry the child’s details.

Everyone needs photographic ID on every visit they attend to enable them to go on a social visit.

If you don’t have photographic ID please check out the websites below:
https://www.postoffice.co.uk/identity/pass-card (current cost is £15)

https://www.citizencard.com/apply-for-a-uk-id-card-online (Standard costs £15 but takes 21 days and urgent application costs £30 and could take up to 1-2 working days. When purchasing the card to be used for prison visits, you will be eligible for a 50% discount, making the cards cost £7.50 instead of £15.) 

Unfortunately if you do not have any photographic id you will NOT be able to go have your social visit 

Is there a dress code?

HMP Durham operates a family orientated visits policy. The majority of visitors are accompanied by children and the prison promote a safe, decent and relaxed family environment.

To maintain decency in the visits hall the prison requests that visitors are of an acceptable standard of dress when visiting. This is to prevent inappropirate clothing being worn in and around the presence of other visits and staff.

Please note, if you are unable to meet the requirements of the dress code, on arrival you will not be permitted to enter the establishment until you have changed into appropriate, alternative clothing. 

The following items of clothing should NOT be worn by anyone visiting a loved one in prison (this includes children):  

 - Hats or scarves and head covering which are not worn on religious grounds

- Inappropriately damaged clothing

- Metal hair accessories

- Steel toe capped shoes/boots or cycle/motorcycle shoes

- Non-prescription glasses i.e. sunglasses

- See-through (transparent) clothing

- Ripped jeans/trousers

- Low cut or revealing tops

- Cropped tops that reveal the navel area 

- Male vests of any kind

- Items of clothing that display offensive, abusive or insulting words or gestures

- Football shirts

- Mini or very short skirts/dresses unless worn with leggings

- Shorts which are hot pant length - all shorts must be knee length

- Smart watches 

Locker facilities are located in the visitors centre and all outer garments and personal items much be placed in the lockers prior to going on a visit. Visitors are reminded that staff are required to search visitors as a condition of entry and that all visits take place at the discretion of the visits manager. 

How can I get there?

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

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

Buses

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 £3 per day. Tel 0191 3741702 or email parkingservices@durham.gov.uk

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.

Parking

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. 

Where can I wait when I arrive for my visit?

When you arrive at the prison you must go to the Nepacs Visitors’ Centre. For afternoon visits the centre will open at 12.45pm and close at 4.30pm.        

Facilities:

There are toilets, baby changing facilities, disabled access and disabled parking (limited spaces - please speak to the visits staff to access disabled parking).

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

You will need £1 for a locker key deposit.

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.

Refreshments are available to purchase in the visitors centre and visits hall. Once your visit is booked please ring us on 0191 3323676 to let us know of any dietary requirements for example, allergies, intolerances, vegan, vegetarian and religions. Please do this two days prior to your visit so we can try our best to accommodate your needs

Play area facilities in the visitors centre are now open and activity packs will be provided for children at their tables, during visits. A soft play area is also available for younger children in the visits hall.

What can I take into the visit?

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

- £1 for a locker key deposit

- ID documents

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.

Baby milk can be brought into the visit in a sealed milk carton with an empty bottle. 

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 or when you are contacted about the visit.

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.

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.

You will walk through a portal/scanner and then be patted down by a member of staff. Coats and jewellery will be checked by hand or machine. You will be asked to remove your face covering so that it can be searched.

Please note, if you need the toilet once you are on the visit, you will have to go through the search process again. 

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.

Am I allowed physical contact with the prisoner during visits?

You are allowed to have limited physical contact with the person you are visiting at the start and end of your visit.

What facilities are there for children?

Please note the play area in the vistors centre is now open and there is a soft play area in the visits hall.

Activity packs may also be available for children during visits.

Parents/guardians should watch and be responsible for their children at all times. 

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

Can I get help with the cost of visiting?

You may be able to claim travel expenses if you are on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits.

Please ask at the desk in the Visitors’ Centre (call 0191 332 3676) for details of the Help with Prison Visits Scheme before commencing your visit.  Staff can help you complete the form.  

Visit: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-prison-visits

More information HERE.

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

You are not allowed to post anything to the prisoner other than letters, cards etc.

Clothes can be handed in only on your initial reception visit, you do not need to book a separate slot. Books can also be brought in for the prisoner - please ask our visits staff for information on the process.

The following items of reception clothing are allowed to be handed in: 

  • 7 Pairs of socks.
  • 7 Pairs of underpants.
  • 1 Pair of trousers, tracksuit bottoms or jeans - not black, a very dark colour.
  • 2 T-shirts – not black or a very dark colour.
  • 1 Vest – not black or a very dark colour.
  • 1 Pair of pyjamas – Not black or a very dark colour.
  • 1 Pair of shorts.
  • 1 Jumper – no hood, not black or a very dark colour.
  • 1 Jacket – no padding, no hood, not black or a very dark colour.

Notes: 

  • Items that resemble staff uniforms or are black in colour will not be accepted. 
  • Camouflage clothing will not be accepted.
  • No trainers/sliders or dressing gowns permitted.

All clothing will be subject to searching and possible testing procedures, if contraband is found or detected you will not receive the property and Police will be contacted with details of person handing in the property.  

Please do not expect residents to receive their clothing on the day they are handed in.

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

If you have any serious concerns about a person in HMP Durham you should call the Family, Safety and Wellbeing telephone and voicemail service on 0191 332 3695.

Alternatively, you can call the prison switchboard on 0191 3323400, and ask for Safer Custody or email safercustodydurham@justice.gov.uk  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 (tel 0191 332 3676).  We will do our best to assist you with any question or concern you have. Nothing is too small! 

What health care services are available for prisoners?

Health care for prisoners in HMP Durham is currently provided by Reconnected To Health (RTH).

RTH is a partnership made up of Spectrum CIC (general healthcare), Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust/TEWV (mental health services) and Humankind (drug and alcohol services).

If a prisoner has a concern, they must let a member of healthcare staff know.

Please see their website for frequently asked questions and answers about health care provision for prisoners in north east prisons. Find out more here: https://spectrumhealth.org.uk/health-and-justice/faqs-for-families/

Who do I contact if my family needs support?

If you would like support for yourself, your family or loved one in HMP Durham, our early days in custody family support worker can offer support in the first 14 days of a new prisoner arriving at the prison.  To access this service contact our helpline (numbers below).

If you have any questions about visits, concerns about a loved one, would like some support for you or your family, or would like to speak to someone please call our Nepacs visits team on 0191 332 3484 / 332 3676 or our free helpline 0800 012 1539, email support@nepacs.co.uk or text: 07983437457.

We also hold regular Visitors’ Voice peer support sessions where visitors get together to support each other. On occasions a representative from the prison attends to explain what happens within different departments and to answer questions. Look out for details in the centre or find out more HERE.

How can I stay in contact with a prisoner?

The prisoner is able to telephone his family/friends from his cell, if he has bought phone credit and had your telephone number cleared with security.  They are also able to write cards or letters, send an email or book a video call.

Writing letters

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.

You can also contact the prisoner using email, voicemail and video calls.

Find out more HERE.

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.

You are no longer able to send cheques, postal orders and cash into the prisoner.

If you cannot use the online service you may be able to apply for an exemption - for example if you:

- are unable to use a computer, a smart phone or the internet
- do not have a debit card
This will allow you to send money by post.

For more information visit here and to arrange transfer of money to a prisoner visits https://www.gov.uk/send-prisoner-money

Do you run any special family visits?

We currently offer a Thursday morning father/child visit for pre-school children and special family days during the school holidays.

Family learning visits (homework clubs) are not currently available. 

If you would like to to find out more about the father child visits please contact the visitors centre on 0191 332 3676 or email HERE.

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

Send us an enquiry