HMP High Down

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 High Down. 

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 0207 147 6300.


HMP High Down
High Down Lane




Governor: Sally Hill

Pact Worker contact: Olivia Cotter 

Family Engagement Worker: 

Visitors’ Centre Telephone: 020 7147 6360

Visitors’ Centre Email: [email protected]

Visitors’ Centre Opening Hours: 8:30am – 4:45pm on Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday; 12:30pm – 4:45pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Visiting Times


No Visits


09:30 – 11:00 and 14:30 – 16:00


09:30 – 11:00 and 14:30 – 16:00


09:30 – 11:00 and 14:30 – 16:00


No Visits


14:00 – 16:00 only


14:00 – 16:00 only


Please note there are no visits on Mondays, Fridays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Booking a visit

All visits must be booked in advance. Only those whom are named on the booking will be allowed entry into the prison. 

All visitors over the age of 16 will have their ID checked; for more information regarding Identification, please see Identification Policy below.

To book your visit

Telephone: 020 7147 6570

Lines are open Monday to Friday 10am – 12pm, 2pm – 4pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am – 12pm.


You can also book in person at the Visitors’ Centre – however, you must remember to confirm your ‘In Person’ booking request has been successful by ringing the Visitors’ Centre the next working day after 3.00pm (closed Mondays and Fridays). If your call goes through to answerphone, leave a message with your name, telephone number and prisoner’s name and someone will get back to you.

Afternoon visitors will be able to book in at the Visitors’ Centre from 12.30pm on weekdays and at weekends. 

Any changes to a visit must be made by telephone no later than 12:00pm on the day before the visit is due to take place.

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

HMP High Down operates a biometric ID system. All visitors over 16 years old will have their ID checked, their photograph taken and print taken of their index finger.  For all subsequent visits the fingerprint will then be used as proof of identification, however you must bring your ID with you on every visit as you may be asked to show it.   

When it is time for your visit and you have had your ID checked, you will be searched. This will include walking under a metal detector and a rubdown.  Females will be searched by members of the same sex. 

Sometimes you will be sniffed by security dogs. Make sure you wear clothes that are not contaminated by any form of drug as your visit will be refused.

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, please see below for examples:

You must provide one of the following forms of ID:

  • Photo driving license
  • EC identity card
  • Senior citizen photo travel pass
  • Employers or student card

If none of the above are available, you must supply two different types of alternative identification, one of which must show your address.

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

Children’s Identification Policy

Visitors under 16 years old will not need ID; visitors over the age of 16 should refer to the list above.

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.

There is a dress code in place for visitors. Anyone considered to be inappropriately dressed will be offered the opportunity to wear prison issue jogging bottoms/sweatshirts. If a visitor decides not to wear these items, then the visits will be refused. Here is a list of some of the items of clothing that are deemed inappropriate by the prison:

  • 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,
  • 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.

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.

What can I bring in?

  • £25 per person, coins only
  • Locker key
  • Essential medication
  • Empty baby’s feeding bottle
  • A dummy

Baby milk, juice, and nappies are available from the Tea Bar in the Visits Hall. No other items will be allowed past the main gate.

Food and drink

Light refreshments are available in the Visitors’ Centre and the Visits Hall.

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.

Disabled Access

There is provision for disabled visitors and prisoners. Please inform the Visitors’ Centre if you have any specific needs.


You cannot give money to the prisoner during a visit.

All money for prisoners must be posted in or transferred using online mobile or telephone banking via:

Cheques or Postal Orders must be made payable to “HMPS”, and the prisoners’ name and prison number must be written on the back, as well as the full name and address of the sender (including postcode) and their relationship to the prisoner.

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

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) Visit Centre staff can provide you with details. For more information, visit: 

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 aren’t monitored, for example when a prisoner calls a legal adviser.


Letters to prisoners should be addressed to: 

HMP High Down
High Down Lane




(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.


High Down uses two services – Email a Prisoner, which can be accessed at and e-Postman which can be accessed at

Through these services, family and friends can send a message that 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 will need to click on in order to activate your account and send a message. You need to buy a minimum of £5 credit in order to use the service, which runs at a cost of 40p per email. Some services offer a reply option, where you can pre-pay for the recipient to reply.  


Family members and friends can sign up to Prison Voicemail at, 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 dialing 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, signaling 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.


Every prisoner has 28 days from date of arrival to have property handed in.  The exception to this is court clothes. Please contact the Visitors’ Centre direct for a complete listing of property allowance.  All prisoners are able to buy the items that they want/need through the approved suppliers, whose catalogues are available in the Prison.

Property cannot be posted in. The only items that can be posted are letters, postal orders and photographs (which the prisoner must not be in) and stamps.  

At High Down, prisoners may order goods via their ‘Canteen Sheet’ which they receive every Friday. Money should reach the prison no later than Thursday to be available for that week’s canteen; they will not receive their order until the following week and days depend on individual House Blocks.

Property transactions can only take place on a prior to/ during a visit, between 08:30am - 11:30am and 01:00pm-04.00pm on the days the centre is open. Saturday and Sundays 10:00am - 12:00pm, bby prior arrangement. No property accepted on a Monday. 

Court Clothing:

  • Suit trousers
  • Shirt
  • 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.

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