HMP_DurhamDurham Visitor Centre


HMP Durham Visitors' Centre,

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

Contact details

Visitor centre: 0191 3323676  PLEASE NOTE THE CENTRE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. If you would like to speak to someone please contact the Family Support Team in HMP Durham on 0191 332 3518 and leave a message if you don't get an immediate response. The line is checked Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.
Visitor centre email: use contact form to email HERE  (you cannot use this email address to book visits - see email below)
Prison: 0191 3323400
Visits booking line: 0191 3323417 Line open Monday 9am-4pm, Tuesday to Saturday 9am-12pm.
Visits booking email:

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   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.  We will do our best to assist you with any question or concern you have. Nothing is too small! 

As visits are currently cancelled, please contact the Family Support Team in HMP Durham on 0191 332 3518 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.

When can I visit?

PLEASE NOTE: Visits are cancelled until further notice. Updates will be provided via our website and social media.

Details on how you can keep in touch are provided on this page (below) including details of video calls.

Prison visit times are:

  • Monday, Thursday and Friday: 1.45pm to 3.45pm
  • Tuesday: 9.30am to 11:30am  and 1.45pm to 3.45pm
  • Wednesday: 9.30am to 11:30am, 1.45pm to 3.45pm and 5.15pm to 7pm 
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9.30am to 11.30am, 1.45pm to 3.45pm

Length of visits: Prisoners are entitled to a minimum of 1 hour for a domestic visit. 

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.

Can I have a video call with the prisoner?

Video calls will be available for prisoners and their families/contacts from Monday 29 June 2020.

Each video call is 30 minutes in duration. At the moment, to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to have one, the calls are limited to one per month. 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 whilst social visits are suspended.

Video calls at HMP Durham will take place 7 days a week, both on mornings and afternoons.

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.

How can I book a visit?

All visits are currently cancelled due to COVID-19. Details on how you can keep in touch are provided on this page (below) including details of video calls.

At HMP Durham all visits can be booked either by telephone or email although reception/ first time visits must be booked via telephone. 

You can call 0191 3323417 to arrange a visit.

The booking line will be opening the following times:

  • Monday 9am to 4pm
  • Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 12noon

Or you can email a booking request to

Anyone who is tagged will need a letter from the Governor before they can visit, which they will need to bring with them on the visit.

When booking a visit, you will only be able to book a visit if you supply the following information:

  • Prisoner name, date of birth and number (unless it is a reception visit, and you don’t know it yet)

  • 1st and 2nd choice of visit date

  • All visitors full names, dates of birth and addresses  

If booking online, you will receive an automated acknowledgment of your request.  Please note this is not confirmation of your booking; you will receive an additional email with confirmation details. You will need to keep this confirmation email and it is a good idea to bring a copy of it with you on your visit. 

PLEASE NOTE: from Monday 20 January 2020, when you book a visit you will be given an allotted time for your visit. This will enable reception visitors to go in first.  Please do not arrive too early for your visit as you will not be invited into the visitors centre until the time of your booking. Visitors will then be called over to the visits hall in groups according to their booking times.

It can take up to 72 working hours to respond to an email, therefore if you need to make a change to a booking quickly please ring the booking line, or allow 5 working days’ notice when sending your request.  The booking service is not available on bank holidays.  

Visits must be booked at least 48 hours in advance to a maximum of 28 days.  

Visitors are not able to make any changes to a visit once it has been booked.

Where can I wait when I arrive for my visit?

When you arrive at the prison you must go to the Nepacs Visitors’ Centre. The centre is open:

  • Monday, Thursday, Friday 12.30pm - 4.15pm

  • Tuesday 8.30am - 12noon and 12.30pm - 4.15pm

  • Wednesday 8.30am - 12noon and 12.30pm - 7.30pm   

  • Saturday and Sunday 8.30am - 12noon and 12.30pm - 4.15pm              

When booking you will be given an allotted time for your visit.  Reception visitors will be welcomed into the visitors centre first (either 8.30am or 12.30pm) and the centre will open for all other visitors at 9am or 1pm. Visitors will then be called over to the visits hall in groups according to their number (given at the time of booking). If your booking was made by email the number is shown on the bottom of the confirmation email. 

You can sit anywhere you like. There is a small café where you can buy drinks and snacks (coins only, notes not accepted). There are toilets, baby changing facilities, disabled access and disabled parking (limited spaces), and a play area for younger children.

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

Inside the Prison visits area, Nepacs provide a play area and refreshments. 

You will need £1 for a locker key deposit.

Each adult is allowed to take up to £20 on a visit, but this must be in coins. It would be helpful if you bring change with you.

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.

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 bus and train station are both about a 30 minute walk from the visitors’ centre.


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

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.

Where can we park?

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. 

What facilities are there for children?

There is a play area available within the visitors’ centre.  There is also a play area in the visits’ hall which is staffed by our play workers, who will provide activities for the children during the visit. 

Please note the play area is not a crèche; parents should watch and be responsible for their children at all times. Please introduce your children to the play worker and let them know which table you are seated at. 

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

Do you run any special family visits?

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

Special father/child visits run every Thursday morning and special family visits take place during school holidays. 

A family learning visit also takes place on a Friday evening. 

These are additional to normal visits and are very popular.

Ask in the visitors’ centre for details.

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!

The following forms of ID are acceptable; all must be valid:    

  • Passport                                                                               

  • Driving licence    

  • Benefits book                                                                    

  • Senior citizen public transport pass issued by Local Authority

  • European/EC identity card    

  • Birth certificate

  • Annual public transport season ticket with photo card                                         

  • Employers ID card or Student ID card - but only if this clearly shows the name of the visitor and the employer or educational establishment, and has a photograph or signature, and if the employer named on the card is known to exist.                                                                                                       

Or three or more of the following:                                                       

  • Birth certificate 

  • Marriage certificate                    

  • Citizen card

  • Cheque book or credit/debit card (counts as one form of ID)

  • Employer's pass or ID card or Student ID card - not acceptable under list above

  • Young person's proof of age card

  • Rent book                     

  • Foreign identity or resident's card (other than EC ID cards)

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.

How often am I able to visit?

Unconvicted remand prisoners are normally allowed three visits per week from Sunday to Saturday. These can be booked by you for a time that suits you. However, please see note above about the current situation.          

Convicted prisoners are issued with one visiting order (VO) every 14 days. See note above about the current situation.

Prisoners who have earned enhanced status will be given 2 extra visits per month. These privileged visiting orders (PVOs) are issued on the first of the month after enhancement and cannot be used for weekend visits. They must be booked in the month they are issued. 

Who is allowed to visit?

Apart from on the reception visit, 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.

No one aged 17 or under is allowed on a reception visit and a maximum of 3 adults can attend.

Seating arrangements at this prison allow a maximum of 3 visitors over the age of 10 years per prisoner, however there is no limit on the number of children under 10 years old on the same visit but they will be expected to sit on the adult visitors' laps.

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 Visitors’ Centre 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.

What can I take into the visit?

Each adult is allowed to take up to £20 on a visit, but this must be in coins. No notes are allowed. The money is to buy drinks and snacks in the visits room. You can buy anything you like for the prisoner to eat or drink, but he cannot take anything back to his room at the end of 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 things you can take with you are your coins and 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, however Nepacs are able to supply you with what you need. Please ask a member of staff at the tea bar or the play area.

Baby milk can be taken over to the prison visits room, however the milk must be in a sealed carton with an empty bottle.  Food jars/cartons are not allowed.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How will I be searched?

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. 

Please note, if you need the toilet once you are on the visit, you will have to go through the search process again, however you will also be asked to remove your footwear so your feet are checked and you will be asked to open your mouth.

Can I take anything in for the person I am visiting?

(Please note: No property accepted on evening visits)

You can hand in clothes for the prisoner on a reception visit, just after you have your ID checked. Please note you can not send in clothing or other items or drop them off at the prison unless it is during a reception visit. 

At Durham the following items are allowed: (remove all packaging and tags):                              

  • 2 T-shirts *
  • 1 Jumper *
  • 1 Jacket *
  • 1 Pair Trousers (Jeans, Joggers) *
  • 7 pairs socks
  • 7 pairs underwear
  • 1 Sports Vest *
  • 1 Pair Pyjamas

( * ) Must not be black, navy, dark colours, camouflage. Nothing should be padded or have a hood.

The officers will check through any property you have brought with you and bag it up ready for delivery. You will not give it to the prisoner yourself, but they will usually get it on the same day.

Smart court clothes - Prisoners must now submit an application if they want clothing handed in on a visit for court.

What items can I send to the prisoner?

You are not allowed to post anything or drop anything off for the prisoner  - other than letters, cards etc. Any clothing or other items that the prisoner needs must be ordered through the prison canteen and payment made from their prison bank account.

No items of clothing will be accepted by the prison.  

If you have any questions please contact our Nepacs visits team for advice on 0191 332 3676 or family support on 0191 332 3518.

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.

By transferring money online it means the money is transferred more quickly, there are less processes and there is no physical handling of money for staff. 

Click here for the online information/ site to start sending money

Durham Prison are still accepting cheques and postal orders. 

How much money can I send in?

Prisoners are allocated £3 a week regardless of their status. They earn extra if they work within the prison. You may send in as much as you like but the amount they can access each week depends on their status.

On remand:  Entry level £35.00, Standard £47.50, Enhanced £51.00     

Sentenced:   Entry level £10.00,   Standard £15.15, 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.

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.

You can also contact the prisoner using email.

  • Email a prisoner:

  • 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

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

Find out more HERE.

Can he phone or write to me?

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, or send an email (see How can I write to or contact the prisoner? above).  

Can I get help with the cost of visiting?

If you are on benefits or a low income you may be able to get help with the cost of visiting. Ask a member of staff in the visitor centre for a booklet and claim forms (and keep any petrol receipts or tickets you have from todays travel).

Find out more HERE.

Or you can contact the Assisted Prison Visits for more advice.

Tel: 03000 632 100 (open 10.15am to 11.45am and 2.15pm to 3.45pm Mon - Fri)

Email: or visit

It is a good idea to fill in a Proof of Visit form to take up on your first visit, just in case you decide to make a claim.

For more information about visiting please get in touch with the visitors’ centre on 0191 3323676.

Send us an enquiry