How long until a prisoner can call?

How long until a prisoner can call

One of the most pressing questions for families and friends of new inmates is, “How long until a prisoner can call?” Communication is a vital part of maintaining relationships and offering emotional support to those in prison. In this article, we’ll explore the timeline and regulations surrounding when a prisoner can make their first phone call in the UK prison system.

The Short Answer: It Varies

The time it takes for a prisoner to make their first call can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of prison, the inmate’s behaviour, and administrative processes.

First 24 to 48 Hours

Generally, prisoners are allowed to make a brief phone call within the first 24 to 48 hours of their arrival. This is often referred to as the “reception call” and is usually made to inform family members of the individual’s incarceration.

Types of Prisons and Their Impact

High-Security Prisons (Category A)

In high-security prisons, the process may take longer due to more stringent security checks. The initial call might be delayed until these checks are completed.

Medium to Low-Security Prisons (Category B, C, D)

In these prisons, the initial call is generally made more quickly, often within the first day of arrival.

Pre-Approval and Security Checks

Before making any subsequent calls, prisoners usually need to submit a list of phone numbers for approval. This list often includes close family members and legal representatives.

How long until a prisoner can call?

How long until a prisoner can call?

Timeframe for Approval

The approval process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the prison’s administrative workload and security protocols.

Costs and Payment for Calls

Initial Call

The initial “reception call” is usually free of charge and is considered a welfare measure.

Subsequent Calls

For later calls, the cost is typically deducted from the prisoner’s own account, which can be funded by family members or through prison wages.

Special Circumstances

Legal Calls

If the inmate needs to consult with a legal representative urgently, special provisions may be made to expedite this type of call.

Family Emergencies

In the case of a family emergency, the prison may allow an immediate call, even if the regular approval process has not yet been completed.

Monitoring and Privacy

Recorded Calls

Most calls, except those to legal representatives, are recorded for security reasons.


Calls may be monitored by prison staff to ensure they comply with security regulations.

Tips for Faster Communication

  1. Be Proactive: If you know someone is going to be incarcerated, prepare the necessary identification and information needed for the pre-approval process.

  2. Follow the Rules: Make sure to follow all the prison’s guidelines for phone calls to avoid any delays or complications.


So, how long until a prisoner can call in the UK? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, the initial call is usually made within the first 24 to 48 hours, with subsequent calls requiring a pre-approval process. Understanding the rules and timelines for phone calls in the UK prison system can help ease the stress and uncertainty that often comes with having a loved one behind bars. Whether you’re preparing for a family member’s incarceration or simply curious about the process, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of what to expect.