A prisoner may have a maximum of three adults (16 years and over) and three children visiting at one time and can have at least one visit each week for a minimum of half an hour.
However, the two steps below must be completed before a visit can take place.
1. Getting approval to visit
Prisoners can ask for visitor application forms at the prison. Prisoners then post these forms to people they would like to visit them.
The forms ask for information such as:
- Date of birth
- Relationship to the prisoner
- Any criminal history
Visitors then post the form back to the prison. Prison staff assess the form and may ask the visitor to attend an interview to clarify information.
Visitors will be told if they are approved or not. It is expected most will be. If an application is declined a prohibition order will be issued explaining why.
Application forms must be filled in for every person that wishes to visit.
2. Booking a time
Once a visitor has been approved, the prisoner needs to ask prison staff to book a time within the prison’s visiting hours.
Visiting hours may vary from site to site. Other arrangements to visit can be made in special circumstances.
If visitors arrive without a time booked they may not be allowed entry.
What happens when visitors arrive at the prison?
Visitors arriving at the prison must have their letter of approval and a form of identification that includes a photograph, such as one of the following:
- Drivers licence
- A bank issued card with recent photo
- Student identification card
If visitors do not have both their approval letter and an accepted form of identification they may not be allowed entry.
On arrival staff may ask to search a visitor’s car, possessions or the person themselves - this may be a scanner search, including being asked to walk through a metal detector, or a rub down search (if staff have reasonable grounds to believe the visitor has an unauthorised item).
If a visitor does not agree to any of these searches they will not be able to visit.
A drug detection dog may be used to assist in these searches.
At any time during a visit staff may also (if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a visitor has an unauthorised item) do a scanner search or rub-down search.
If staff have reasonable grounds to believe a visitor is carrying illegal drugs (as defined under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 ), the visitor may be detained at the prison for up to four hours so the Police can attend to investigate.
Visitors are not allowed to bring any animal on to prison property (except for guide dogs). If a visitor arrives with an animal they will be asked to remove it from prison property.
Prison staff will decide if the visit is to be in a visiting room or security booth. A prisoner’s conduct at the time of the visit may affect the type of visit.
Some reasons a visit may be refused on the day:
- A Prohibition Order applies to the visitor
- The prisoner does not want to see the visitor
- A visitor refuses to give staff information they can lawfully request or a visitor refuses to produce the letter of approval and/or an acceptable form of identification
- A visitor gives staff false information
- A visitor refuses to give permission for staff to access information contained in official records
- A visitor behaves in a manner that is harmful, threatening, intimidating, indecent or disruptive to the security and order of the prison
- A visitor fails to comply with the Corrections Act or Corrections Regulations or a lawful order given by an officer
- A visitor refuses to let themselves or their vehicle or possessions be searched
- A visitor refuses to pass through a metal detector
A visitor has an unauthorised item with them. This may include:
- any drug, alcohol, or other intoxicating substance
- any cellphone
- any offensive weapon
A visitor must tell staff about any drugs (including prescription medication), alcohol, cellphones, or offensive weapons they have with them or in their car when entering prison grounds.
A prohibition order stops a visitor from visiting a prisoner(s) or a prison for a set period of time, but no more than 12 months, if they are likely to put at risk:
- the security, discipline and good order of the prison
- the welfare, successful rehabilitation and safety of a prisoner(s)
- the welfare and safety of any person in the prison who is not a prisoner
Right of Review
If a visitor has been declined and a prohibition order issued, they may apply to the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections for a review of that decision.
The request must be in writing, stating the applicant’s reasons for applying for the review and the name(s) of the prisoners they wish to visit.
The Chief Executive’s delegate will review the application within 21 days of receiving it and has the discretion to confirm, reverse or modify the original decision.
The Crimestoppers free phone line of 0800 555 111 provides an anonymous way anyone can report criminal activity. It is for prisoners, visitors and anyone else to use to help gather information about what’s happening with prisoners and the prison.
Often people connected with prison life have information they want to pass on about crimes that have been committed or are being planned for the future and 0800 555 111 is a safe way to do that.