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.

What to expect when a family member first goes to prison

Upon arrival at prison all prisoners will go through a screening in reception. Here they will be asked about any concerns, health issues and given an induction on the prison regime.

They prisoner will be issued an allowance to make calls on their first night, subject to restrictions imposed by the courts. After that the prisoner is able to telephone family/friends, from their cell or using the telephones provided on the landings, if they have bought phone credit and had the telephone number cleared with security. 

All prisoners form part of a regime group on the induction wing for the first 14 days to reduce the spread of COVID. This will allow prisoners to keep everyone safe.

Prison Voicemail has created this helpful video to explain that to expect when a family member goes to prison. 

This includes information on the following:

What support are prisoners offered?

Prisoners have access to a range of support which could include the following:

  • Their personal key worker (designated officer - helps with all their needs and queries)
  • Health care services
  • DART - Drug and Alcohol recovery team - promoting recovery
  • Mental health nurses
  • Chaplaincy support
  • Education - in cells and in classrooms
  • Employment in a varity of roles
  • Safer custody - Trained staff to help with all prisoner needs
  • Family support trained staff - this will depend on the prison

Prisoners can self refer to these services through the kiosk or application systems on the wing or by speaking to a member of staff. 

For more information on health care for prisoners in the north east prisons visits HERE.

Health care for prisoners

Health care for prisoners in the seven north east prisons 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/

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.

If the prisoner is moved to a new prison we recommend that you ring the visitors' centre or visit the relevant page on our website before your visit to find out about the procedures at that prison. 

Help with the cost of visiting prison

The Help with Prison Visits service can help you with the cost of travelling for visits.  

Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-prison-visits

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 Help with Prison Visits service.

Visitors' centre staff and volunteers will be pleased to offer you information and advice. The quickest and easiest way to claim your costs is online. Application forms are only available from Help with Prison Visits. 

Find out more about help with the cost of visiting prison here and how to make a claim.

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.