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Visiting someone in prison

Prison visits are an important part of helping prisoners to stay in contact with their families and friends.

Booking a visit

The prisoner will have been given a booking reference which they will  pass on to you before you book the visit by telephoning the prison Visits Booking Office:

  • Maghaberry & Magilligan Visits Booking Office 0300 200 7866
  • Hydebank Wood Visits Booking Office 028 9025 3666

If you are visiting someone who has just been sent to prison you may be able to have a first visit without pre-booking. Places are limited so you must telephone the Visits Booking Office before visiting.

The details of all people including the names, addresses and ages of children intending to visit should be given when booking a visit.

If you have any special requirements including wheelchair access, please mention this when booking your visit.

What identification do I need to make a visit?

All visitors aged 18 and over will, by their third visit, have to provide photographic evidence of their identity; be photographed for record purposes and have their fingers scanned to enrol them on the system. Acceptable photographic ID includes

  • driving licence
  • passport
  • electoral identity card
  • senior citizen's smart pass
  • citizen's card

If necessary you will be able to make the first two visits without photographic ID but you must have it available by your third visit.

Children aged between 16 and 18 may be allowed visits without the presence of an adult, provided there are no reasons for this not to happen.  The written consent of their parent/guardian will be required. These children will also provide photographic ID, be photographed and have their fingers scanned to enrol them on the system.

A child who is accompanied by an adult should provide identification such as a birth certificate or a medical card. A child of 11 years or over will have their fingers scanned  to enrol them on the system.

How many people can come for a visit?

Normally two adults, together with three children will be allowed at each visit. Depending on the space available the prison may be able to accommodate larger families. It is essential that you agree the numbers with the prison before you travel.

What items can I bring to a visit?

Visitors must leave their personal belongings in the lockers provided in each prison but each party is allowed to bring a limited amount of cash through to the visiting room to use for purchasing snacks.

What items can I bring in for my relative/friend?

Prisoners in Northern Ireland are allowed to wear their own clothes. If they do not wish to bring in any or all of their own clothing, certain items can be provided by the prison.

Clothing Parcels may be left at Visits Reception. Prisoners are limited to what clothing they are allowed to wear and as all laundry is carried out within the prison all clothing must be machine washable. Please check with the prison to find out what is on the current list of accepted items.

Visitors can leave in paperback books during Visits Reception opening times.

Families may order and pay for newspapers and magazines through certain local newsagents. The prison can give you full details.

Giving money to a prisoner

Money for a prisoner can only be left at Visits Reception by a domestic visitor.  No money will be accepted by post, without written permission from the Governor.

The money will be put into an Inmates Personal Cash account (IPC) The maximum amount allowed in the account is £500 and this cannot be exceeded. Staff in Visits Reception can check the balance of accounts for both prisoners and family.

A prisoner is not allowed to pass any money out of the prison, without written permission from the Governor.

Spending money in prison

A prisoner can spend the money in their Inmates Personal Cash (IPC) account in various ways, including:-

  • to buy telephone credit - each prisoner is issued with a Personal Identification Number (PIN) which will allow them to dial any one of their 20 pre-stored numbers - a prisoner cannot receive incoming calls
  • to buy groceries, sweets, toiletries, cigarettes, radios

Spending limits are set for each sentenced prisoner depending on their regime level. Remand prisoners have no spending limit and can spend as much as they have in their IPC account.