Please note

Due to the restrictions put in place for us around the Coronavirus outbreak, Pact staff are not currently operating from prison premises. For the short term, 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 callback - 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.

HMP Bristol

A Visitors’ Guide

This guide includes information that you may find useful for the duration of the time your family or friend is a resident at HMP Bristol. 

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 or you can ring the main switchboard on 0117 372 3100.

On 24th March 2020 the Government announced that all prison visits are temporarily cancelled until further notice. Read the full announcement here.


Remember, there are other ways to contact your loved ones:


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

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


HMP Bristol,

Cambridge Road,




Governor: James Lucas

Pact Worker contact: 01179 244 866

Emergency contact: 0117 372 3100 (Prison switchboard)

Visitors’ Centre Telephone: 01179 244 866   

Visitors’ Centre opening hours: 12.00pm – 14.00pm & 15.45pm – 16.45pm


Visiting Times


14.00 – 16.00


14.00 – 16.00


14.00 – 16.00


No visits


14.00 – 16.00


14.00 – 16.00


14.00 – 16.00


Visits will not take place on Thursdays, Good Friday, Christmas day or Boxing Day.


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

To book your visit

Telephone: 0300 060 6510


Email: [email protected]


Pact services HMP Bristol

Pact visitors’ centre

All visitors will need to go to the Pact visitors’ centre located in the corner of the car park, prior to the visit. The visitors’ centre offers a child friendly, welcoming space for people visiting. Pact staff will be able to offer advice and support both pre-and post-visit.

Tea, coffee and cold drinks will also be available at the centre. Lockers for visitors’ personal items will be housed in the Pact Centre as well. You will have access to the lockers between the hours of 12.00pm until 16.45 to store all items securely that are not permitted to be taken into the visiting area.

All visitors are asked to follow the yellow hatched road markings and not to cut through the cars please. 

Main doors to check in for your visit will open at 13.30pm, this allows time to book in and search all visitors. The visit will then commence at 14.00pm.  The entrance to visits will close at 14:45.


Food and drink

Pact run the refreshment service for prisoners and their families in the prison visits hall, a wide range of food and drink including:  hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, fresh fruit, crisps, sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, baby food and gluten free products are available to purchase in the visits hall. We believe that simple comforts like a cup of tea, a sandwich, a piece of fruit or a chocolate bar can help, in a small but practical way, to alleviate some of the stress involved in visiting a prisoner.

Prisoners are not permitted to take any food out of the visit with them.


Play area

Pact run the children’s play area in the visits hall. We provide a well-stocked play area with toys, books, games, arts and crafts.  Our play areas are staffed by experienced play workers and volunteers who are highly trained and DBS checked. The parent/carer is responsible for the children and their behaviour whilst in the play area. Prisoners are permitted to use the play area to engage with their children.


Pact Family Engagement Workers (FEWs)

Pact Family Engagement Workers perform a unique, distinctive, professional role which acts as a bridge between prisons and communities. The aims of the service are to improve the outcomes for children and families of offenders by helping to ensure that prisoners and their families:

  • gain more and faster access to support within their community
  • are known to local authority services when a parent is imprisoned, thus ensuring early intervention, which can help prevent greater problems later
  • can access all the local resources to which they are entitled
  • work together to decrease the chance of intergenerational crime affecting the community

Pact Family Days

Family days are run on Thursdays normally during school holidays and take place between 14.00pm and 16.00pm. Prisoners or families can complete an application form available on the wings, at the tea bar or in the visitors’ centre. This visit is an additional visit and will not affect usual visits entitlement.

If you have any other questions you would like to ask, please talk to or ring the Pact Visitors’ Centre on 01179244866.

To find out more about Pact please visit our website


29 Peckham Road



Phone: 0207 7735 9535

E-mail: [email protected]

Registered charity no: 219278


Where to park?

The car park at HMP Bristol is for staff use only so you will not be able to get through the barrier. There are places to park on the street but please allow extra time to find a space. There is also a disabled bay on the main road opposite the prison.

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


Security checks

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 will also be searched by a prison officer (women and children are searched by a female officer; men may be searched by either gender) before being allowed up to the main hall.

All adults will be given wristbands to wear during their visit and male visitors will also be given a hand stamp.

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

Visitors will only need to produce 1 of the following:

  • Passport, including foreign passports, and time expired where the photograph is still recognisable
  • EC Identity card
  • Driving licence
  • Benefits book
  • Senior citizen’s public transport pass issued by local authority
  • Employers or student ID card but only if this clearly shows the name of the visitor and the employers or educational establishment is known to exist.


If you do not have a passport or driving license you can order a citizen ID card at the cost of £10 that you can use. You can find out more here


If you are unable to produce one of the above staff may accept 2 or more of the following:


  • Birth/marriage certificate
  • Rail or bus pass with photo
  • Cheque book or a signed credit/debit card
  • Employers pass/ID or student ID card (not acceptable from section one)
  • Young persons ‘proof of age’ card
  • Library card, if it has a signature which can be compared with the visitor’s signature
  • Rent book
  • Foreign identity or residents card (other than EC ID cards which can be accepted)
  • Expired documents from the above lists that appear satisfactory in other ways




Children’s Identification Policy

  • Children’s Passport
  • Personal Child Health Record (also known as the PCHR, baby book or 'red book') 
  • Birth certificate


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, this prison had no specific dress code in place for visitors, however, visitors are asked to ‘dress appropriately’. The prison may not have defined what it considers appropriate, but you can be refused a visit if staff think you are not dressed appropriately when you arrive. In our experience, some of the items of clothing that are often deemed inappropriate by prisons include:

  • revealing or see-through clothing,
  • low cut tops,
  • bare midriffs,
  • dresses and skirts that are above knee-length,
  • scarves,
  • sunglasses,
  • vests worn as a single garment,
  • stiletto heels (or heels above 2.5 inches),
  • slogan t-shirts that could be considered offensive,
  • ripped jeans,
  • hoodies,
  • steel-toe capped shoes/boots,
  • cloaks/capes/ponchos or other clothing that could prevent staff from observing sufficiently (unless worn for religious purposes),
  • Smart watches,
  • hats or head-wear (unless worn for religious purposes),
  • open-toe shoes or flip flops.
  • You will generally not be allowed in the visits hall wearing a coat.

If you are unsure about whether your clothing meets the criteria, please do contact the visitors’ centre beforehand and double check. If in any doubt, please avoid any of the above.

If on arrival you find that there is a specific policy at this prison, please do let us know so that we can update this page. You can email us at [email protected].


What CAN be taken upstairs on a visit?

  • Locker key
  • Up to and no more than £50 per table (notes and coins accepted), though only £20 per person
  • Baby milk can be taken up, this must be made up in front of staff
  • Dummies and baby blankets
  • You can take up a coat however, please take it off and put it through the X-ray machine in the white tubs before passing through the metal detectors.
  • Inhalers and heart spray (these will need to be searched)
  • Walking Aid


What CAN’T be taken upstairs?

  • Scarves
  • Watches
  • Wallets
  • Any food/drink or chewing gum
  • Sunglasses
  • Pen or paper/letters/drawings
  • Hats/gloves
  • Make up
  • Phones
  • Tobacco/lighters
  • Sprays (e.g. perfumes, deodorants)



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.

You can also make a UK bank transfer via online, mobile or telephone banking which allows faster, cheaper and more secure payments to prisoner accounts.

The money sent using this service will, in most cases, reach prisoner accounts within one to three working days. You will need the prisoner number as well as the prisoner’s date of birth to use the service.

This can be done online:

You cannot send money at a bank branch or from overseas.

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
  • tobacco
  • 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 is provided by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). For more information, visit


Keeping in touch


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

Prison staff can listen to and record most types of call. Some calls aren’t monitored, for example when a prisoner calls a legal adviser.



Letters to prisoners should be addressed to: 

HMP Bristol,

Cambridge Road,




(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.



Through this service, family and friends man send a message to their loved one, which is printed out and delivered by prison staff by hand. You will need to buy a minimum of £5 credit in order to use the service, which runs at a cost of 40p per email. The recipient pays nothing.



This service allows social contacts to exchange voicemails with prisoners.

Upon 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 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.


Sending Property to a Prisoner

Reading books are the only items that can be handed in on a visit. Please be advised that puzzle books or magazines will not be accepted.

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. 

The amount of clothing that can be initially sent in is being reduced. Prisoners will be allowed an initial allowance of seven pairs each of pants and socks, with an application having been made. This is a one-off allowance, with any further purchases needing to be bought via the approved supplier catalogue.

All prisoners can buy the items that they want/need through the approved suppliers, whose catalogues are available in the Prison. Prisoners are only allowed to make one application to have clothing sent in - if they have lost or damaged any clothing, further purchases will be allowed by catalogue only. All footwear can only be purchased via catalogue from an approved supplier.

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/skirt
  • Shirt/blouse
  • Jacket
  • Tie
  • Shoes

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 going to court. Lastly, jeans, t-shirts and trainers will not be accepted as court clothes. 


What can you send in through the post?

  • Letters
  • Photos
  • Cards e.g. birthday cards. However, if the cards have things stuck to them to make a 3D effect they will be taken apart for security reasons.
  • Handmade pictures e.g. drawings done by children. Drawings done with paint will not be allowed and will be stored in their property.
  • Self-addressed envelopes and stamps are no longer accepted. Prisoners will be supplied with paper and envelopes and will need to purchase stamps via their canteen sheets. 

Contrary to what the prison website says we do not have a post box at the prison and will not accept any letters at the gate.

Welfare concerns

If you have any concerns over a prisoner’s safety and welfare, you can call the safer custody hotline on 01173723382 and leave a message. For very urgent concerns contact the duty governor via the switchboard on 01173723100. 

    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).
    • Your telephone number (so that the prison can call you back).


    Voicemail checked between 10am - 6pm daily. Please wait at least 24 hours for a call back before contacting the prison again.


    If you are worried that your loved one is at immediate risk please call the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 (from 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday).

    Useful contact numbers:

    Prisoners’ Families’ Helpline: 0808 808 3444

    Barnardo’s Bristol Children’s Centre: 0117 978 2441

    Brentry & Henbury Children’s Centre: 0117 959 3800

    Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau: 0344 411 1444

    Bristol Central Job Centre Plus: 0800 055 6688

    A printable PDF version of this guide is available for download here: Bristol