Visiting a prisoner for the first time

Visiting a prisoner for the first time

Visiting a prisoner for the first time, Visiting a prisoner for the first time can be an overwhelming experience filled with uncertainty and apprehension. This comprehensive guide is designed to navigate you through the process of visiting a prisoner in the UK, ensuring you’re well-prepared and informed.

Understanding the Basics

Before you embark on your visit, it’s crucial to understand the basic procedures and requirements of visiting a prisoner in the UK. Each prison may have its own set of rules, but there are common guidelines that you can expect to encounter.

Booking Your Visit

The first step is to book your visit. This can typically be done online through the official prison website or by telephone. You’ll need to provide personal details, the prisoner’s information, and select a suitable date and time for your visit.

Getting Approval

To visit a prisoner, you must be on their approved visitor list. The prisoner will need to submit your details to the prison authorities, who will then conduct a background check. Once approved, you can proceed with booking your visit.

What to Bring

When visiting a prisoner, you’ll need to bring a valid form of identification, such as a passport or driving licence. It’s also advisable to bring a small amount of change for the lockers (to store your belongings during the visit) and for vending machines in the visitation area.

Visiting a prisoner for the first time

Visiting a prisoner for the first time

Dress Code

Prisons enforce a strict dress code for visitors. Avoid wearing anything that could be considered offensive, revealing, or resembling prison uniforms. Opt for smart-casual attire that is respectful and appropriate.

Arrival and Security

Arrive at the prison well before your scheduled visit time to allow for security checks. You’ll go through a series of security procedures, including a search of your person and belongings, and possibly a sniffer dog inspection. Cooperation and patience during this process are essential.

The Visit Hall

Visits usually take place in a designated visit hall. This area is set up with tables and chairs, allowing for face-to-face interaction with the prisoner. Some visit halls may have a play area for children and vending machines for snacks and drinks.

Conduct During the Visit

During your visit, it’s important to adhere to the prison’s rules and regulations. Maintain appropriate behaviour and conversation, and be mindful of the fact that prison staff will be monitoring the visit.

Emotional Preparedness

Visiting a prisoner can be emotionally taxing. Prepare yourself for the range of emotions you may experience and focus on providing support and positivity to the prisoner during your time together.

Duration of Visits

Visits typically last between one to two hours, depending on the prison’s regulations. Make the most of this time by engaging in meaningful conversation and offering encouragement.

Ending the Visit

When the visit concludes, prisoners and visitors are usually asked to leave separately. It’s important to say your goodbyes and leave promptly when instructed by the prison staff.

After the Visit

Visiting a prisoner can have a lasting emotional impact. Take time to process your feelings and consider seeking support if needed. You can also start planning your next visit, as maintaining regular contact can be beneficial for the prisoner’s well-being.


Visiting a prisoner for the first time in the UK requires preparation, understanding, and emotional readiness. By familiarising yourself with the procedures and expectations, you can ensure a smooth and meaningful visit. Remember, your presence and support can make a significant difference in the life of a prisoner, providing them with a connection to the outside world and hope for the future.