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 3323676

Visitor centre email: 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 3676.

When can I visit?

Prison visit times are:

  • Monday – Sunday 10.45am to 11.30am and 2.15pm to 3pm

Length of visits: Each visit will be 45 minutes and prisoners are entitled to one visit per month.

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.

Please note that prisoners are not able to have a visit until after 14 days of arriving at the prison.

Who is allowed to visit?

Visits will only be allowed by people who are symptom free.

Up to 3 people can visit, including children.? Visitors from different households are permitted to visit a prisoner at the same time. 

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.

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 and please ensure that you bring ID that provides proof of residence as all visitors in your group must live in the same household.

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.

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 over the age of 10 years:  

 - 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 mid thigh to knee length

- Smart watches 

Locker facilities are located in the entrance to the prison visits area for outer garments and personal effects.  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, you will need change for the parking meters (free on Sundays!).

The New Elvet Bridge in Durham City, is closed for 14 months. This may impact on your journey. Please check online for diversions and alternative routes to the prison.

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.         

To ensure that social distancing is maintained throughout the visit journey, all visitors will be given a time for arrival at the visitors’ centre. Please ensure that you arrive at your scheduled time as visitors will not be admitted before their arrival time and late arrivals will result in the visit being cancelled.

Face coverings:

All adults and children who are 11 years and above must wear face coverings throughout the visit journey unless they have proved they are exempt. You will be required to provide your own face covering as if you were visiting shops or travelling on public transport. You will be asked to remove your face covering so that it can be searched when you enter the prison.

If you are exempt and can prove this you are required to advise us at time of booking your visit and proof to be brought to your visits session.

Facilities:

There are toilets, baby changing facilities, disabled access and disabled parking (limited spaces).

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.

Nepacs also provides a tea bar service during visits. You can pre-order items for yourself and the person you are visiting. These must be ordered and paid for in advance at the Visitors' Centre, and they will be delivered to your table during the visit.

Play area facilities will unfortunately not be available at present throughout the visits journey, and this includes the Visitors’ Centre. 

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 thing you can take with you is a locker key.

You will need £1 for a locker key deposit.

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?

Children under the age of 11 may have physical contact (eg hug) with the prisoner during the visit. Adult visitors and those over 11 years are now permitted to have physical contact  (hugs, hand shaking etc) if they provide a negative lateral flow test prior to the visit. You will be given a time to arrive to have the test when you are contacted about your visit. 

If you do not receive a lateral flow test you will not be allowed to have contact with the prisoner during your visit and must maintain social distancing. Failure to comply with this measure will result in your visit being terminated.

What facilities are there for children?

Please note the play area in the visits hall and visitors centre remains closed until further notice.

Parents/guardians should watch and be responsible for their children at all times and ensure that they follow the social distancing guidelines in place. Children under the age of 11 years are allowed to have physical contact (such as a hug) with the prisoner during visits. Children aged 11 and over are allowed physical contact if they receive a negative lateral flow test prior to the visit.  

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

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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.

Clothing can be handed in only on your initial reception visit.  You do not need to book a separate slot to hand in your reception clothing. 

There is still a process in place for the handing in of court clothing and the posting in of property if you live a long distance from HMP Durham, please apply by application to the Reception Custodial Manager.

On your reception visit, your visitor will be allowed to hand in the following:

  • 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 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! 

You can also contact the Nepacs early days in custody team in HMP Durham on 0191 332 3807 if you would like someone to speak to, have any questions or require support. Leave a message if you don't get an immediate response. The line is checked Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.

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.  

Contact our family support workers on 0191 332 3807, Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Or alternatively, 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 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.

  • Email a prisoner: www.emailaprisoner.com

  • Use E-postman to send letters electronically to the person you know - and for them to be able to quickly reply to you. Find out more at https://e-postman.co.uk/

  • Use prison voicemail. For information and costs associated with this service, click here

  • Prisoners can book a video call through the Purple Visits app - details here.

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?

Please note the father/child and family learning visits are cancelled until further notice.  

At present our visits team are providing family activity packs which are sent to children at home. If you would like to receive a pack for your family please ring 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