HMP_Northumberland_Visitors_CentreHMP Northumberland Visitor Centre

Address:

HMP Northumberland,
Acklington,
Morpeth,
Northumberland.
NE65 9XG

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

Visits to HMP Northumberland restarted - from 10 May 2021

We are pleased to advise that Social Visits will recommence at HMP Northumberland on Monday 10 May 2021 - with a reduced capacity, allowing us to operate safely and comply with latest public health advice on social distancing measures and regulations around the use of PPE/ face coverings.

Visiting the prison
Visits will operate Monday to Friday afternoons, and Sundays, and can be booked as normal by residents via the Kiosk.

Residents allocated weekly session will rotate to ensure fair access. For example if residents on a particular wing are allocated a visits session on Monday one week, the following week it will move one day to a Tuesday etc. This will be automatically adjusted on the kiosk so residents can identify the visits session. Residents must book their visit 48 hours in advanced so the necessary contact can be made with visitors to explain the new safe Covid 19 visit procedures.

To maximise visits opportunities each resident will be allowed 1 visit per month which will be 1 hour in duration. Residents can receive either a social or purple visit. Residents can book in one of the 2 x 1-hour visits sessions identified below:

1345 – 1445 Cohort 1
1445 – 1515 Resident and Visitor entrance / exit procedures.
1515 – 1615 Cohort 2

Residents will be informed by staff upon arrival where to sit and how to access their table as there are strict measures in place to ensure 2m social distancing is maintained.


Residents subject to shielding may receive a social visit as long as social distancing measures are adhered to.
No physical contact will be allowed during visits (including handshakes, handholding, hugs or kisses). Only children under 11 years of age are permitted to have physical contact with the prisoner, such as a hug. 

Who can visit?
Visits will only be allowed by people who are symptom free, who have not been asked to self-isolate and who have not recently come into contact with anyone who has symptoms or is self-isolating.

Who cannot have a visit?
Symptomatic residents under isolation.
New receptions and those who are returning from external hospital who are yet to complete their 14 days isolation on a specific unit away from the main resident population to prevent the spread of infection.

Face Coverings
All visitors aged over 11 years will be required to wear face coverings on arrival at the visitors centre and throughout the visit. The masks will be provided by the prison and visitors are not permitted to wear their own face coverings. These face coverings will be searched when entering the prison.

Facilities
There will be no indoor creche / play areas or refreshments available to further reduce visit movement to support social distancing. No property may be brought to the visits hall or handed in by visitors.

Searching
Searching during social visits will be in line with Covid-19 guidance and the use of appropriate PPE will be available.
We all understand how important social visits are to you and the impact of these having been suspended during the critical Covid-19 period over recent weeks. We acknowledge how the new ways of operating during social visits will feel different and may be difficult for all to adjust to. Please be patient, courteous and understanding of our new ways of working. Staff at HMP Northumberland and Nepacs will do their very best to try to make the visit experience as enjoyable as it can be.

LETTER TO PRISONERS FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES

The Director of HMP Northumberland sent this open letter to families and loved ones of prisoners (7 July 2021) following the Prime Minister's announcement on Covid restrictions.  
 

Contact details

Visitors’ centre: 01670 383736. Details of our free telephone helpline and other support HERE. 

Visitors’ centre email: use contact form to email HERE 
Prison: 01670 383100 
Visits booking line: Visits are now booked by prisoners and it is their responsibility to inform their visitors of when they are.

How can I book a visit?

Prisoners are responsible for booking their own visits on kiosks in their House Blocks and for informing their visitors of when this visit is. 

If you have any questions about the visit procedure, ID needed and requirements to meet social distancing guidelines please contact the visitors centre on 01670 383736. The visitors centre team will try to contact you to go through what you need to know before your visit, including ID etc but we recommend that you ring the centre before your visit.

When can I visit?

Visits take place Wednesday to Friday and morning visits take place on Saturday and Sunday. All visits are booked as normal by residents via the Kiosk. 

Morning visits are from 9.00am and 10.30am, and afternoon visits are 1.45pm and 3.15pm. All visits will be 1 hour.  

The resident must book the visit 48 hours prior to your visit so the prison can contact you to explain the new Covid 19 visit procedures.

Residents allocated weekly session will rotate to ensure fair access. For example if residents on a particular wing are allocated a visits session on Monday one week, the following week it will move one day to a Tuesday etc. This will be automatically adjusted on the kiosk so residents can identify the visits session. Residents must book their visit 48 hours in advanced so the necessary contact can be made with visitors to explain the new safe Covid 19 visit procedures.

To maximise visits opportunities each resident will be allowed 1 visit per month which will be 1 hour in duration. Residents can receive either a social or purple visit (video call).

Please arrive 30 minutes before the start of your visit, but do not come any earlier as you will not be permitted to enter the visitors centre until the agreed time. 

Residents will be informed by staff upon arrival where to sit and how to access their table as there are strict measures in place to ensure 2m social distancing is maintained.

Residents subject to shielding may receive a social visit as long as social distancing measures are adhered to. No physical contact will be allowed during visits (including handshakes, handholding, hugs or kisses)

After each 1 hour visit the visitors will be asked to leave the hall.

How often am I able to visit?

To maximise visits opportunities and to be fair to all, each resident will be allowed one visit per month at present - which will be one hour in duration. The visit can be booked in one of the 2 x 1-hour visits sessions available:


13:45 – 14:45 hours
15:15 – 16:15 hours

How many people are allowed on each visit?

Who cannot have a visit? 
- Symptomatic residents under isolation
- New residents (within the first 14 days) and those who are returning from external hospital who are required to spend 14 days isolated.

Who can visit? 

Visits will only be allowed by people who are symptom free, who have not been asked to self-isolate and who have not recently come into contact with anyone who has symptoms or is self-isolating.

Up to 3 close family members or significant others may visit. This could be:

  • A Single Adult - Aged 18 or over, who are a partner, parent, foster parent, grandparent, carer or significant other.
  • Two adults  - Aged 18 or over, who are two parents, two grandparents, two adult immediate relatives or significant other, or a mixture of these (e.g. a parent and grandparent).
  • Two adults and up to one dependent child - Aged 18 or over, who are: two parents, two foster parents, two grandchildren, two adult immediate relatives or significant other, or a mixture of these (e.g. a parent and a grandparent); and one dependent child (e.g. son, daughter) of the person being visited. 
  • A single adult and up to two children - Aged 18 or over, who are the partner, parent, foster parent, grandparent, carer or adult close relative or significant other and up to two dependent children (e.g. son daughter).

Visitors from two households are permitted to visit a prisoner at the same time. 

Please note, visitors will have their temperature checked before entering the visitors centre and again before entering the prison, where all visitors will also be searched (as you would normally).

Face Coverings 
All visitors aged over 11 years will be required to wear face coverings, provided by the prison, on arrival at the visitors centre and throughout the visit.

Can I have physical contact with the prisoner during visits?

Whilst restrictions on physical contact are easing in the community, high risk environments like prisons are still required to take extra measures to stop infections spreading. We know this is very difficult but social distancing will need to continue for in-person visits to protect visitors and people in prison (see note below re younger children). 

Health authorities are advising us on how we might be able to improve visits and increase physical contact while keeping everyone safe.

It's important we do everything we can to keep the virus out of our prisons. You can help us achieve this by having home tests before you visit.

Adults and visitors over 11 years are not allowed to have physical contact with the prisoner on visits (including handshakes, handholding, hugs or kissing) in order to maintain social distancing (2 metres apart) and reduce the risks to prisoners, staff and other visitors. If this is breached then the visit will end and future visits may be restricted or limited.

Please follow the social distancing guidelines in place such as the one way systems, 2 metre queuing systems, distanced seating arrangements in the visits hall and keep 2 metres from other visiting parties.

Guidance for physical contact for children aged 11 and under:

• There are no restrictions to the contact children under 11 can have, as long as it is in line with the prison’s normal rules.
• Children can leave their seat but will need to stay in the area marked out during this visit. 
• Everyone on the visit will need to follow social distancing guidance when they are arriving or leaving the visits hall.
• This is so that we can continue with social distancing between people who don’t know each other which is in line with the community guidance.

How can I get there?

HMP Northumberland is approximately 12 miles north of Morpeth. We can give directions over the phone or post out directions and travel information. There is ample car parking in the visitors' car park. There are a small number of disabled spaces.

Buses - Service X18 runs hourly from Newcastle Haymarket and stops at the turning circle at the top of the road. Timetables are available in the Visitors' Centre.

What ID documents will I need?

ID is required for all visitors including children for every visit.

Acceptable ID includes photographic documents such as a passport, photocard driving licence, travel pass or company ID pass. Alternatively, a combination of non-photo ID such as utility bills, cheque book, ‘proof of age’ card etc, may be acceptable, at the discretion of the senior officer.

All visitors should also bring with them a proof of residence (such as utility bills, driving licence etc) to confirm that all members of the visiting party live in the same household.

Ask in the visitors’ centre for a list of suitable ID. 

Where can I wait when I arrive for my visit?

All visitors must book in at the Visitors’ Centre prior to their visit and must arrive in good time to be able to do this.

The centre is open:

- Monday to Friday from 12.15pm to 4.30pm

- Sunday from 8.30am to 12noon and 1.15pm to 4.30pm. 

On your first visit staff will take your fingerprints and photo for the computer system (known as biometrics) which will then be used every time you visit to confirm your identity. Identification is still required for every visitor including children.
Prison staff will check your VO. Visitors who do not bring identification will not be allowed in.

The Nepacs Visitors' Centre has a range of information and facilities for visitors, including:

  • Information boards / leaflets / signposting

  • Disabled access and parking to rear of building

  • Disabled toilet facilities

  • Light refreshments available in the Centre - currently closed and not available

  • Lockers £1 deposit. Nepacs takes no responsibility for items left in lockers

  • Baby change room

  • Quiet room

  • Play area for children (parents / carers are responsible for children at all times) - currently closed

  • Free parking for visitors.

Nepacs also provides a tea bar within the visits’ hall where you can buy light refreshments for yourself and the person you are visiting- although this is currently closed due to COVID-19.

We have a quiet room available in the Visitors’ Centre. If you require a place to pray or need some privacy please speak to a member of staff. If you want to talk in private please do ask.

Please inform the visitors’ centre if you are bringing a wheelchair into HMP Northumberland.

Who do I contact if my family need support?

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 visitors' centre team on 01670 383736 or our free helpline 0800 012 1539, email support@nepacs.co.uk or text: 07983437457.

If you would like support for yourself, your family or loved one in HMP Northumberland our family support team can help. Contact Nicola and Stephanie, by telephone 01670 383 100 Extension 3220 or email Nicola.Collins3@justice.gov.uk or Stephanie.Austin@Justice.gov.uk

The Nepacs’ family support team at HMP Northumberland can work with a prisoner and their family to:

  • Provide advice and support to families to reduce barriers to visiting
  • Signpost families to relevant community services
  • Assist to establish or maintain family bonds
  • Mediate reconciliation with family members
  • Provide support in gaining access to children
  • Support with practical issues such as transport and childcare
  • Offer emotional support
  • Provide help to access special family days and father-child visits
  • Help access financial support for travel and family hardships
  • Support in preparing for home leave and release - including our Heading Home re:connect and re:settle programmes (which support prisoners and families before release)

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.

What happens when it is time to go over to the prison?

Once your number is called staff hand you a VO and you go across to the main prison gate, through an external door called ‘Visitors’ Entrance’. Staff will check your fingerprints and your ID. You then go through security doors and will be searched. You will be searched by officers of either sex, unless you request to be searched by someone of the same sex. You will be asked to remove your face covering so that it can be searched.     

The visits room officers will allocate you a table and will supervise visits from various points around the room. CCTV is in operation. Physical contact between the prisoner and his visitors is not currently allowed as social distancing must be maintained throughtout the visit. The prisoner should remain seated at all other times.

Normally there is a small play area and youth zone in the Visitors’ Centre and a play area within the main visits room in the prison.  However at this time, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the play area and youth zones will remain closed.

Please think very carefully about whether any children visiting will be able to observe social distancing and social contact rules. There will be no play area or toys available for them and children will need to remain seated throughout the visit. If children are unable to observe the social distancing arrangements the visit may need to be ended. (If two adults attend with a child and they anticipate difficulties with distancing, they may wish to agree in advance which of them will leave with the child if needed.  This would enable the other adult to continue the visit).

Parents and guardians remain responsible for their children at all times.

Toilet facilities are available and search procedures may be repeated after the use of these facilities.

What facilities are there for children?

Normally there is a small play area and youth zone in the Visitors’ Centre and main visits room in the prison.  However at this time, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the play area and youth zones will remain closed.

Please think very carefully about whether any children visiting will be able to observe social distancing and social contact rules. There will be no play area or toys available for them and children will need to remain seated throughout the visit. If children are unable to observe the social distancing arrangements the visit may need to be ended. (If two adults attend with a child and they anticipate difficulties with distancing, they may wish to agree in advance which of them will leave with the child if needed.  This would enable the other adult to continue the visit).

Parents and guardians remain responsible for children at all times and must ensure that children remain in their seat during the visits, as much as possible. Children under 11 years of age are now permitted to have physical contact with the prisoner during a visit (such as a hug).

Please do not let older children (over 11 years) hug or have physical contact with the person you are visiting as this will lead to the visit being stopped.

We are offering activity packs for children to take home with them after a visit. If you would like us to send your children a craft and activity pack home please contact the visits team on 01670 383736.

What can I take into the visit?

Visitors can take in:

  • Locker key

  • Prescribed medication.

Lockers are available for a £1 deposit, as you can’t take personal possessions into the prison.

Can I take anything for the person I am visiting?

No property may be brought to the visits hall or handed in by visitors.

Can I have a video call with the prisoner?

Video calls are available for prisoners and their families/contacts at HMP Northumberland.

Each video call is 30 minutes in duration.

Four people can be on the call, but the lead caller must be over 18 years old.

The costs of the video calls are free during the coronavirus pandemic.

Families and friends can access the service by downloading the “Purple Visits” app on their smartphone or tablet – the rest of the instructions are clear from the app. Details on how to get started are HERE and these frequently asked questions will be helpful. 

What items can I send to the prisoner?

You can send in plain lined paper, envelopes and postal orders. However, no stamps.

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 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

If you have problems accessing the website ask the visitors centre for support.

How can I send money to the prisoner?

The online secure payment service enables you to send money electronically using a debit card.

This service enables the sender to deposit monies directly into the prisoner’s bank account so funds can be transferred quickly. This is a cheaper option than postal orders, cheques or cash.

Visit: www.secure.payment-services.com or tel +44 (0)3333 706550.

If you are unable to send money electronically then an exemption form must be completed with the necessary proof and returned to the Business hub to get permission to send money by post. Ask the visitors centre about the exemption form or contact the prison direct.

The prisoner is able to view this on his account on the Kiosk.

Prisoners can send out postal orders to approved persons only. They should ask their personal officer about this.

Prisoner’s weekly spending money

Money you send in will go into the prisoner’s suspense account. The following amounts will be transferred to their spend account each week.

Basic - £4.00

Standard - £15.50

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.

  • Prison Technology Services are offering a new service where people can receive emails from family, friends, legals and probation services.  Email a prisoner: www.emailaprisoner.com Find out more HERE. Information and leaflets are available in the visitors’ centre.

  • We have a “post box” in the Visitor Centre where you are able to leave cards, letters etc so you can save on postage costs. The box is emptied every week day and letters taken to the prison.

  • Video calls are also available using the Purple Visits app. See further information under the question: Can I have a video call with the prisoner?

Can he phone or write to me?

The prisoner is able to telephone his family/friends using in cell telephones, if he has bought phone credit and had your telephone number cleared with security. 

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 concerns about a prisoner, please speak to a prison officer, any staff or volunteers in the visitors’ centre or contact the prison's safer custody / family links phone line: 01670 382 150.

What can I do if visits are not possible?

We would encourage you to try and stay in touch with your loved ones in whatever way you can.  Phone calls and letters are important. 

Alternatively, organisations such as New Bridge have volunteers who become prison visitors; ask your probation officer about this.

Prison Technology Services are offering a new service where people can receive emails from family, friends, legals and probation services. Go to: www.emailaprisoner.com  Leaflets are available  from the visits team.

You can also have a video call with a prisoner in HMP Northumberland through the Purple Visits app - details here. 

Do you run any special family visits?

Father/child and special family visits are normally available at HMP Northumberland. For more information ask in the visitors’ centre for details. However Please these visits are not currently available due to COVID-19.

Our visits teams have created activity packs for children visiting so that they can take these packs home with them and can also send craft family packs out during school holidays. If you would like a pack for your children please ring the visitors centre on 01670 383736.

For more information about visiting please get in touch with the visitors’ centre on 01670 383736.

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