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 www.justice.gov.uk/contacts/prison-finder/belmarsh  or you can ring the main switchboard on 020 8331 4400.

Address:

HMP Belmarsh

Western Way

London SE28 0EB

Governor: Adrian Knight

Visitors’ Centre Telephone: 0208 317 3888               

Visitors’ Centre Email: [email protected]

 

Visiting Times

Monday

                    No Visits

Tuesday

09:15 – 11:15 then 14:15 – 16:15

Wednesday

09:15 – 11:15 then 14:15 – 16:15

Thursday

09:15 – 11:15 then 14:15 – 16:15

Friday

09:00 – 10:30           No Visits PM

Saturday

09:15 – 11:15 then 14:15 – 16:15

Sunday

No Visits AM           14:15 – 16:15

Booking a visit:

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 whom 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 / authorisation of a Prisoner.

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

To book your visit

Telephone: 0208 331 4768

Online: www.gov.uk/prison-visits

You will need:

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

Email: [email protected]

 

At your visit

Visits can be extremely emotional and the process can be confusing. All prisons have differing processes for making visits and also differing security checks.

Security checks

All visitors, including children, will be subject to search procedures as a condition of entry.  Your co-operation is essential as failure to comply with searching procedures will result in you being refused entry; if you are already in the prison, your visit will be terminated and you will be escorted from the establishment.

You may be required to have your finger or thumb prints scanned as part of a security check. You may also have an iris scan.

Sometimes you will be sniffed by security dogs. 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).

During your visit, officers will be with you throughout and will open and lock doors in front of and behind you at all stages.

Identification Policy

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

If you do not have a passport or driving license you can order a free citizen ID card. The cost of the application to date is £10 for delivery within 21 working days, or £30 for fast track next day delivery. You can find out more at www.citizencard.com

Children’s Identification Policy

Anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to make a visit alone and must be accompanied, unless visiting a parent by special arrangement.

Visitors under 16 do not require ID. Those over 16 years old must provide two forms of Identification (photographic ID and proof of address) or their visit will be refused.

Since March 2012, Belmarsh have used a biometric system where visitors’ finger prints and facial photos will be taken on the first visit. These are then used for proof of ID for any later visits, however, it is important to always bring your photo ID and proof of address with you.

Acceptable forms of ID for those aged 16 and over are as follows:

Current British passport OR British Driving License (with current address)

AND

Two proofs of address (such as a bank statement or utility bill dated within the last three months) AND one of the following:

  • foreign passports or time-expired passports with a recognisable photo, no more than one year out of date,
  • non-UK photo driving license, no more than one year out of date,
  • EC identify card, Home Office ID card or letter of photo ID from immigration,
  • Oyster card,
  • Freedom Pass,
  • employer’s card or student card (with name and photo),
  • medical card,
  • tenancy agreement or rent book (must be 3-6 months in date). 

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, the dress code at Belmarsh was stated as follows:

  • no see through or revealing clothing,
  • 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 uniforms (except children in school uniform and police officers on a legal visit),
  • no watches,
  • no cufflinks,
  • jewellery must be kept to a minimum (use a ten pence piece as a guide for earrings),
  • no chains that resemble key chains,
  • no ponchos,
  • no baseball caps,
  • no damaged clothing,
  • no sunglasses,
  • no fluorescent tops,
  • only one pair of trousers to be worn at any one time,
  • no diaries.

What can I bring in for my children?

You can bring nappies, dummies, wipes and baby milk in for your children.

Food and drink

A selection of hot and cold beverages are available, as well as sandwiches, snacks, chocolate, confectionery and hot food including noodles.

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. All money for prisoners must be posted in. Cheques or Postal Orders must be made payable to “The Governor”, and the prisoners’ name and prison number must be written on the back, as well as the name and address of the sender.

In order to be able to establish when the money arrived at the Prison, it is always safest to post the money via either Special or Recorded Delivery. This will also assist should the money go astray.

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.

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 provided by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). Click here for more information.

 

Keeping in touch

Phone

Depending on their status, prisoners receive a personal allowance which they may use to buy PIN credit to call family members. You may wish to post any telephone numbers to the prisoner as you will not be able to write these down on a visit.

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. However, some calls aren’t monitored, for example, when a prisoner calls a legal advisor.

Letters

Letters to prisoners should be addressed to: 

HMP Belmarsh

Western way

London

SE28 0EB

(Prisoners 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.

You could also post in writing material for him to use to write back.

Email

Belmarsh uses a service called Email a Prisoner, which can be accessed here. Through this service, family and friends can email a message that will be printed out and delivered by prison staff within days of sending it. You need to buy a minimum of £5 credit in order to use the service, which runs at a cost of 40p per email. Prisoners are not able to reply via email.

Voicemail

Family members and friends can sign up to Prison Voicemail, 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 the prisoner to listen to. Prisoners can check their messages by dialling the same unique number from any PIN Phone in the prison and may leave a reply. When the message has been heard, the family member receives an instant text notification, signalling that 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.

 

Sending Property to a Prisoner

Clothing Allowance

For 28 days from the first day of custody, clothes may be handed in on a booked visit. For Category A prisoners, this will be 28 days after the first visit. No clothing or court clothing can be handed in on Saturdays. After 28 days, the prisoner may purchase goods from the prison catalogues. Clothes may not be posted in.

Prisoners are allowed the following items:

  • 3 x towels,
  • 1 x pair of shower shoes,
  • 1 x bathrobe (no hoods),
  • 2 x pyjamas,
  • 15 x upper wear e.g. t-shirts, vests, tracksuit tops, jumpers, polo t-shirt and cardigans (polo shirts cannot be in black, navy and grey),
  • 14 x pairs of pants/boxers,
  • 14 pairs of socks,
  • 1 x belt - no studs or large buckles (no bigger than Officer’s buckle),
  • 3 x pairs of shorts (sports only),
  • 3 x pairs of footwear, no metal toe caps or steel sole plates, large buckles, bands, tags or taps,
  • 6 x pair of trousers (jeans, tracksuit bottoms, trousers) not black trousers,
  • 1 x coat (not black or thick padding),
  • 2 x prescription glasses,
  • 2 x prayer suits,
  • 2 x prayer caps,
  • 6 x books.

In addition to the clothing allowance above and not subject to the 56 day rule, the prisoner is allowed clothing for court. Court clothing is defined as the following:

  • 5 x shirts (these may be white, but must not look like Officers’ shirts),
  • 2 x trousers (may be black),
  • 2 x ties,
  • 1 x pair of shoes,
  • 2 x suit jackets.

Old clothing must be destroyed or posted out (at prisoners’ expense) before replacement clothing is accepted.

Prisoners are not allowed to have:

  • any clothes resembling a uniform (e.g. black, navy or grey polo shirts, black three quarter length jackets) or with a camouflage pattern;
  • caps, hats, scarves, bandanas or gloves;
  • clothing with slogans or motifs considered to be racist, insulting or derogatory;
  • clothing with sports/team logos or national or cities crests or flags;
  • clothing with large metal tags;
  • clothing that is soiled or contaminated, damaged, torn or cut down;
  • any hooded clothing.

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 property posted in must first make an application to Property Services in Reception; this means completing an application form. The application needs to include the details of all the property that he wishes to have posted in. Only once the application has been approved should the items be sent to the prisoner. Please note that any parcels received prior to the application being approved will be returned unopened. Photographs and postal orders must also always be posted in. 

Only court clothes can be posted in without the need for an application being made first. The parcel must be clearly marked as ‘court clothes’ and cannot contain any other additional items. 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, it 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. 

A printable version of this Visitors' Guide is available to download here: Belmarsh