Family support officers and Visitors’ Centre staff
Family support officers at each prison and the staff at each Visitors’ Centre are available to offer support and guidance to family and friends. They can also direct you to additional support through outside agencies.
The Family Support Officer at this prison can be contacted on 028 77763311 and the Visitors’ Centre Manager on 028 77750235 NIACRO’s Family Links staff on 028 9032 0157 will also be able to assist you.
Please note that Family Support Officers are NIPS staff and Visitors' Centre staff are employed by PeoplePlus NI.
How do I book a visit?
If you are visiting someone who has been newly committed to prison you may be able to have a first visit without pre-booking. These places are, however, limited so you must telephone the Visits Booking Office before you travel.
For all other visits you will need to use the reference number (which the prisoner will give to you for each visit) to make a booking by telephoning 0300 200 7866
The details of all people including the names, addresses and ages of children intending to visit should be given when booking a visit.
If you have any special requirements including wheelchair access, please mention this when booking your visit or contact the Family Support Officer.
What identification do I need to make a visit?
All visitors aged 18 and over will, by their third visit, have to provide photographic evidence of their identity; be photographed for record purposes and have their fingers scanned to enrol them on the system. Acceptable photographic ID includes
- driving licence
- electoral identity card
- senior citizen's smart pass
- citizen’s card
You should allow a little extra time on arrival to your first visit to be registered on the system. After being registered, your identity will be checked before you enter the visits room and again when you are leaving the room. This simply involves your finger scan being checked by staff and only takes a few seconds.
With your agreement your photograph and finger scan will remain on the system for future visits and as a result you will not have to bring photographic identification every time you visit. All records are stored and protected in line with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and will be deleted 3 months after your last visit.
Children aged between 16 and 18 may be permitted to have visits unaccompanied by an adult provided there are no circumstances to indicate that it would not be in their interests. The written consent of their parent/guardian will be required. These children will also have to provide photographic ID, be photographed and have their fingers scanned to enrol them on the system.
How many people can come for a visit?
Normally two adults, together with three accompanying children will be allowed at each visit. Depending on the space available the prison may be able to accommodate larger families who wish to visit together. It is, however, essential that you agree the numbers with the prison before you travel.
What can I expect when visiting a prison?
All visitors should expect to go through a full rub-down search. Children need to be accompanied by an adult.
All visitors must pass a dog that is fully trained to detect drugs. The dog is on a lead and does not come into contact with the visitor but detects by scent.
Anybody refusing to be searched will not be allowed to see the prisoner.
The senior officer on duty has the authority to terminate a visit if the prisoner or visitor fails to comply with prison rules regarding visits.
Personal belongings must be left in the specially provided lockers in each prison.
Each part of visitors is permitted to bring a limited amount of cash through to the visit for the purpose of purchasing snacks.
Contribution towards travel costs
In an endeavour to promote family ties the Northern Ireland Prison Service will, in certain circumstances, make a contribution towards the cost of travel expenses for those travelling to a prison to visit a close relative or partner. The Scheme is for those on low income. Payments will be made by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU) in Birmingham.
Claims must be made online at www.gov.uk/helpwithprisonvisits
or, alternatively, contact the address below for more details:
PO Box 2152
Telephone 030 0063 2100 (9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, closed on Bank Holidays)
What if I am concerned for my relative/friend in prison?
If you are concerned about the well-being of a relative or friend in prison, you should provide the prison with information so that staff can pay particular attention to that individual. This may include issues such as threats of suicide or self harm, depression, anxiety problems, medication requirements, drug or alcohol problems or bullying.
Should you wish to pass on any such information you should telephone the prison on 028 77763311 and ask to speak to the senior manager on duty or talk to a member of staff at the Visitors’ Centre.
Alternatively you can contact NIACRO’s Family Links on 028 9032 0157 (during office hours only) and they will ensure the information is passed on to the appropriate person.