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

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 020 8196 6300.


HMP Downview

Sutton Lane




Governor: Natasha Wilson

Main Switchboard: 020 8196 6300

Pact Family Support Office: 0208 196 6529  

Pact Worker Contact: Abbie Smith

Visitors’ Centre Telephone: 0208 196 6409

Visitors’ Centre Email: [email protected]

The Visitors’ Centre is open 12:30 – 16:30 on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Visiting Times


No Visits


No Visits


No Visits


14:15 – 15:45


No Visits


14:00 – 16:00


14:00 – 16:00

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 and authorisation of a Prisoner.

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

To book your visit

Telephone: 0300 303 0633

Lines are open Monday - Friday between 09:00 - 18:00, excluding Bank Holidays.

Telephone bookings can be made until 18:00, two working days prior to a visit.

Visits can be booked up to 28 days in advance.


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.

You will receive a confirmation email within three working days.

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

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 one item from List A plus one item from List B OR three items from List B:

List A

  • Valid passport
  • EU identity card
  • Photo driving licence
  • HM Forces/government photo ID card
  • Senior citizen’s public transport pass issued by a local authority

List B

  • Photographic employer or student ID card
  • Young person’s proof of age card
  • Vehicle registration certificate (DVLA V5C)
  • National Insurance Card
  • Valid disabled person’s Blue Badge parking permit
  • Birth certificate (British Nationals only)
  • UK Marriage certificate
  • UK Adoption certificate
  • UK Certificate of Naturalisation or registration 

If you do not have a passport or driving licence you can order a citizen ID card that you can use. You can find out more here

The following items must be dated within the last three months

  • Utility bill (gas, electric, water)
  • Landline Telephone bill
  • Council Tax bill
  • Catalogue or Store Card Bill
  • Bank or Building Society statement
  • Addressed payslip
  • TV licence
  • Credit card statement
  • Mortgage statement
  • Valid insurance statement
  • NHS hospital appointment letter
  • Official correspondence confirming entitlement to benefits
  • Valid NHS card

Children’s Identification Policy

Children under 16 years old are not required to provide identification.

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 Downview was as follows:

  • no large coats,
  • no hats, with the exception or religious headwear,
  • no fascinators and headbands,
  • no gloves,
  • no scarves,
  • no hooded tops,
  • skirts and dresses must be knee length,
  • no high cut shorts,
  • no vests,
  • tops must not be revealing or see-through,
  • no ripped jeans,
  • no football shirts or offensive logos,
  • no Smart watches.

This is not exhaustive and staff may make a judgement call on security grounds.

What can I bring in for my children?

You are allowed to take in an empty bottle into the Visit Hall, where baby milk can be purchased. All nappies and baby wipes are provided free of charge.

Food and drink

Food and drink is available for purchase at the Tea Bar in the Visit Hall. Paper money is not permitted, so make sure you bring coins. There is a maximum limit of £20 per adult per visit.


You cannot give money to the prisoner during a visit.

Money can be sent to a prisoner using your debit card or by bank transfer.  This can be done online:

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.  The envelope should be addressed to the prisoner with her prison number.

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 post go missing.

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

Keeping in touch


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 adviser.


Letters to prisoners should be addressed to: 

(Prisoners name and prison number)

HMP Downview

Sutton Lane




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 prisoner’s prison number, please address the envelope as above with the prisoner’s date of birth next to her name.


Downview uses a service called Email a Prisoner, which can be accessed here.

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.


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 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.

Sending Property to a Prisoner

As of 31 July 2015, all property must be posted in; nothing can be handed in at the Prison, with the exception of books.

All prisoners are able to buy the items that they want/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 she 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: Downview