This guide includes information that you may find useful for the duration of the time your family or friend is a resident at HMP BELMARSH. If you notice anything that is incorrect on this page, please contact us on [email protected]

Any further information can be found on the prison website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/belmarsh-prison  or you can ring the main switchboard on 020 8331 4400.

If you need support

You can email the Pact team at HMP Belmarsh directly at Belmarsh@prisonadvice.org.uk.

For more information, support and advice on all aspects of the justice system, you can contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 (9am – 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 3pm at the weekend).

Address: HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead, London SE28 0EB

Governor: Jenny Louis

Visitors’ Centre Telephone: 020 8331 4682

Visitors' Centre Opening times:

Tues – Thurs 08:00 – 17:00

Sat - Fri 08:00 – 1200

Sun 13:00 – 17:00

VISIT CENTRE OPERATIONAL TIMES

Day

Morning

Afternoon

Monday

Closed

Closed

Tuesday

08:00 – 12:00

13:00 – 17:00

Wednesday

08:00 – 12:00

13:00 – 17:00

Thursday

08:00 – 12:00

13:00 – 17:00

Friday

08:00 – 12:00

closed

Saturday

08:00 – 12:00

13:00 – 17:00

Sunday

Closed

13:00 – 17:00

 Visitors’ Centre Email: Belmarsh@prisonadvice.org.uk

Social Visiting Times

Day

Morning

Afternoon

Monday

No visits

No visits

Tuesday

09.15 - 10.45

14:30 – 16:00

Wednesday

09.15 - 10.45

14:30 – 16:00

Thursday

09.15 - 10.45

14:30 – 16:00

Friday

09.15 - 10.45

No visits

Saturday

09.15 - 10.45

14:30 – 16:00

Sunday

 

14:30 – 16:00

 

Booking your Visit

Booking Line Telephone: 020 8331 4760 and 020 8331 4773

Lines are open: 09:30 – 15:30hrs Mon - Fri

Booking Line Email: [email protected]

You will need:

  • the name and date of birth of the person you would like to visit,
  • their prison number,
  • their dates of births for all the visitors coming with you, including children,
  • the dates and times of the requested visits

All visits must be booked in advance. Only those visitors whose details have been listed on the Prisoner’s Authorisation Contact List (as provided by the prisoner) and those who are named on the booking will be allowed entry into the prison.

Prison staff cannot add visitor(s) to a Prisoner’s Authorisation Contact List without the consent and authorisation of a prisoner.

Adults and children must all have identification; for more information regarding identification, please see Identification Policy below.

Who can visit?

There will be a maximum of 3 visitors per resident (and 2 children).

To visit someone in an adult prison, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, or an individual on whom the person in prison relies for emotional support
  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult (see Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group)
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, an individual on whom the person in YOI or STC relies on for emotional support, or a social worker for looked after children (LAC)

At your visit

Security checks

You will be required to have your photo taken, finger or thumb prints scanned as part of a security check.

On entering the prison, there will be further checks and before getting into visits, dogs that are trained in the detection of drugs are sometimes used on entry to and in the visits’ hall, please do not panic if the dog sniffs you. Make sure you wear clothes that are not contaminated by any form of drug as you will be returned to the Visitors’ Centre and will not be able to have your visit. You may also be searched by a prison officer (of the same gender).

Officers will be in the visit hall throughout the visit and will open and locked in front of and behind you at all stages.

Identification Policy

For all visits you will need to take secure self- identification eg; passport, citizen documentation, driving licence and a household bill as proof of address. In most cases you will need two forms of documentation. A photographic and address ID

If you do not have a passport or driving license you can order a citizen ID card that you can use, application forms for those are obtainable at the visit centre. You can find out more here www.citizencard.com.

Children’s Identification Policy

(Birth Certificate, Oyster Card)

Dress code

For security, health and safety reasons, some prisons have a specific dress code for visitors and others have a more relaxed policy, making assessments on a case-by-case basis. At the time we compiled this information, HMP Belmarsh guidelines were as follows:

 no sports shirts or football shirts,

  • No see through or revealing clothing
  • No torn or frayed jeans or with any designer holes in
  • No open toed shoes, sandals or sliders
  • Skirts, dresses and shorts must not be any higher than just above the knee
  • No low-cut tops or short tops that reveal the stomach
  • No vests to be worn on their own that reveal underwear
  • No clothing bearing slogans that can be deemed racist, insulting or derogatory language
  • No sports branded club clothing, eg. football, rugby,
  • No work clothes carrying company names, including uniforms (except children in school uniform and police officers on a legal visit)
  • No watches
  • No fitbits
  • No cufflinks
  • Jewellery must be kept to a minimum (use a ten pence piece as a guide for size of earrings)
  • No chains that resemble key chains
  • No ponchos
  • No headwear unless it’s for religious purposes, eg. caps of any sort or hats
  • No damaged clothing
  • No sunglasses
  • No fluorescent tops
  • No double layers, only one pair of trousers to be worn at any one time
  • No shorts, especially with pockets under clothing
  • No diaries

What can I bring in for my children?

You may bring in:

  • dummies,
  • baby wipes, nappies, which has to be bagged and sealed when checking in at enrolment counter
  • Baby’s milk bottles to be mixed in front of checking in staff at enrolment
  • prescribed medication, which has to be bagged and sealed when checking in at enrolment counter

If you would like to know more specific information on what you can bring, please contact the prison directly on the details at the top of the page.

Food and drink

If you would like to know more specific information on what you can bring, please contact the prison directly on the details at the top of the page.

Money

You cannot give money to the prisoner during a visit. Please see the section on sending a prisoner money below.

Banned items

Do not attempt to bring any of the following into prison during your visit:

  • illegal drugs,
  • alcohol,
  • weapons,
  • a camera,
  • a mobile phone,
  • indecent or obscene material,
  • material that threatens the security of the prison,
  • material that is written in code
  • car or house keys,
  • any electronic devices including – SIM cards and memory sticks.
  • If you are unsure what you can bring, contact the prison directly.

Financial Assistance for Visits

If you are on a low income or receive benefits you may be entitled to financial assistance for the cost of visiting your relative in prison. Help is provided by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). Click here for more information: www.gov.uk/staying-in-touch-with-someone-in-prison

Keeping in touch

Phone

To speak to a prisoner on the phone, the prisoner has to call you using a prison phone.

Prison staff can listen to and record most types of call. Some calls are not monitored, for example, when a prisoner calls a legal advisor.

Letters

Letters to prisoners should be addressed to:

HMP Belmarsh,

Western Way,

Thamesmead,

London, SE28 0EB

(Prisoner’s name and prison number)

You must write your own name and address on the back of the envelope or it will not be delivered to the prisoner.

If you do not know the prisoners’ prison number, please address the envelope as above with the prisoner’s date of birth next to his name.

Email:

This prison uses emailaprisoner.com. Through this service, family and friends can send a message which is printed out and delivered by prison staff by hand. Once you have signed up, you will receive an activation link via email which you must click on in order to activate your account and send a message. You must buy a minimum of £5 credit in order to use the service, which runs at a cost of 40p per email and at no charge to the recipient.

Voicemail

Family members and friends can sign up to prisonvoicemail.com, a service which allows social contacts to exchange voicemails with prisoners.

On signing up, you will be given a unique local landline number you can call at any time to leave a message; this message will be instantly available for your loved one to listen to. Prisoners can check their messages by dialling the same unique number from any phone in the prison and may leave a reply. When the message has been heard, the family member receives an instant text notification, signalling they may leave another message.

In order to access messages, the prisoner pays the cost of a landline call, but the cost of the service itself is paid by the family or friend.

Plans start from £5 per month.

Secure Video Calls

This prison offers a secure video call service called Prison Video. You will need to use the Prison Video app on your phone or tablet device to have a video call with someone in prison.

The Prison Video app is available to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store (or equivalent app stores outside the UK). HMPPS has produced a user guide and a list of frequently asked questions that will give you all the information you need to start using Prison Video. You can find this at https://www.prisonersfamilies.org/change-of-video-call-service

Only people aged 18 or over can register for an account with Prison Video.

You will need to provide your name, address, and date of birth, and upload photos of your ID and face. You will also need to add details of any other people who wish to take part in the video calls with you, such as children, and upload a clear photo of each participant’s face.

You will need to upload ID for people over the age of 18 only, unless the prison specifically asks for anything else.

Video calls will be free for now, while visits are affected by COVID-19 restrictions. This will be reviewed as HMPPS lift restrictions in prisons and more visits can take place.

Sending Property to a Prisoner

All prisoners are able to buy the items that they want or need through the approved suppliers, whose catalogues are available in the prison.

Any prisoner wishing to have clothes brought into the prison must first submit an application. Once the application has been approved by the prison, the item should be sent in the post directly to the prison with the prisoner’s name and a return address so that they can be checked and placed on the prisoner’s property card. Whilst prison staff will try to ensure the prisoner receives the items, this may not always be possible. In the case that the items are rejected, they will be returned to the visitor.

Please avoiding bringing in the following items:

  • plain black or navy items
  • polo shirts
  • no army style clothing or gang related clothing
  • no items with side pockets
  • no three-quarter length trousers

The above process also applies to court clothes. Appropriate court clothes are defined as the following:

  • suit trousers or skirt,
  • shirt or blouse,
  • jacket,
  • tie,
  • shoes,
  • belt (no large buckles).

Should there be any additional items within the package, they will be returned, and nothing will be passed on to the prisoner. Please note that court clothes are held in reception until the prisoner is actually going to court. Lastly, jeans, t-shirts and trainers will not be accepted as court clothes.

How do I send money to a prisoner?

From 2nd November 2020 the way prisoners can send and receive money has changed. You can no longer send money by bank transfer, cheque, postal order or send cash by post to any prison. You’ll need to send money through the Money to Prisoners Portal using a debit card instead.

The Money to Prisoners Portal service is free, secure and available in all prisons in England and Wales.

To get started on the Portal you will need the prisoner's date of birth and prisoner number. If you cannot use the online service, you may be able to apply for an exemption - for example if you:

  • are unable to use a computer, a smart phone or the internet
  • do not have a debit card
  • You cannot give money to the prisoner during a visit.

Further Support and Advice

Pact family support will be available by email and you can access this by contacting [email protected]. If your issue is complex and you need to talk to us in person, please include your number in the email and tell us that you would like a call back - it would also be helpful if you could let us know whether we are able to leave a message if there is no answer - and we will aim to get back to you as soon as we possibly can.

If you have urgent concerns about the welfare of your loved one in prison, please call the prison Safer Custody line directly.

Prisoners’ Families Helpline

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline for advice and support on all aspects of the criminal justice system:

Call 0808 808 2003 (9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday)

Email the team on [email protected]

Fill in a contact form and request a call back at prisonersfamilies.org

Safer Custody Team

If you are worried about your loved one while they are a resident at this prison, you can contact the Safer Custody team on 020 8331 4890. 

You may be asked to leave a voicemail. Please make sure you include:

  • Your name.
  • The reason that you are calling
  • The name of your family member/friend (and their prison number if you know it)

Please wait at least 24 hours for a call back before contacting the prison again.

If your concerns are immediate or life-threatening please call the prison switchboard on 020 8331 4400.