Guidance

Belmarsh Prison

Belmarsh is a high security men’s prison in southeast London.

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Book and plan your visit to Belmarsh

Prison social visits are temporarily suspended at Belmarsh. We will update here as soon as this changes. There may be the opportunity for visits under exceptional compassionate reasons which should be agreed in advance with the prison prior to travel.

Find out more about visiting someone in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also follow @HMPPS on Twitter and read a rolling update page.

There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them. You can:

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003

Keep in touch with someone at Belmarsh

There are several ways you can keep in touch with a resident during their time at Belmarsh.

Secure video calls

Secure video calling is available at this prison. Family and friends need to download the purple visits app, create an account, register all visitors, and add the prisoner to their contact list.

Read more about how it works

Phone calls

Residents have phones in their rooms but will always have to call you. They have to buy phone credits to do this. The phones are inactive after 10pm, but available at many times during the day.

They can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by security when they first arrive so it may take a few days before they are able to call. This can take longer depending on individual cases.

You can also exchange voicemails using the Prison Voicemail service.

Officers may listen to phone calls as a way of preventing crime and helping keep people safe.

Email

You can send emails to someone in Belmarsh using the Email a Prisoner service.

Letters

You can write at any time.

Include the person’s name and prisoner number (or date of birth) on the envelope. You must also write your own name and address on the back of the envelope.

All post, apart from legal letters, will be opened and checked by officers.

Send money and gifts

You can use the free and fast online service to send money to someone in prison.

Money can be sent in through the post by cheque or postal order if made payable to HMPPS or NOMS Agency.

Gifts and parcels

Prisoners are not allowed to have parcels sent into Belmarsh unless there is an exceptional circumstance.

Residents are able to buy items from catalogues of approved suppliers.

Life at Belmarsh

Belmarsh is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where men can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

Every person at Belmarsh has a right to feel safe. The staff are responsible for their safeguarding and welfare at all times.

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Greenwich Safeguarding Adults Board.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Belmarsh, they will be able to contact a family member by phone. This could be quite late in the evening, depending on the time they arrive.

In some cases, a phone call can be made by a member of staff at the resident’s request.

They will get to speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling and ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.

Induction

Each person who arrives at Belmarsh gets an induction that lasts about a week. They will meet professionals who will help them with:

  • health and wellbeing, including mental and sexual health
  • any substance misuse issues, including drugs and alcohol
  • personal development in custody and on release, including skills, education and training
  • other support (sometimes called ‘interventions’), such as managing difficult emotions

Everyone also finds out about the rules, fire safety, and how things like calls and visits work.

Accommodation

Around 900 men live at Belmarsh, across 4 main units, made up of single, double and triple rooms.

Education and work

Men in Belmarsh can access education, workshops and gym activities.

There is a detoxification and drug support service that can continue to offer support after release through community links.

Residents are offered help to resettle by working with agencies in the following areas:

  • accommodation
  • education
  • training
  • employment
  • health
  • children and families
  • finance, benefits and debt
  • attitudes, thinking and behaviour
  • victims of domestic violence
  • victims of sex work
  • mentoring in custody and on release

There is a listener scheme for residents at risk from suicide or self-harm.

There is a support group for foreign nationals and they can get advice on immigration law.

Temporary release

Residents can apply for Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) and will be assessed individually in accordance with the strict regulation framework.

Organisations Belmarsh works with

We have strong links with Spark Inside and SwitchBack who offer mentoring and coaching services for young men in our care. Through the Gate continues this support after release.

The Shannon Trust helps by training residents to work with others to improve their reading skills.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Belmarsh

The Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) offers support, information and guidance about prison visits to friends and family.

Telephone (PACT) : 020 8317 3888

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Belmarsh. If you cannot resolve the problem directly, you can make a complaint to HM Prison and Probation Service.

HM Prison and Probation Service publishes action plans for Belmarsh in response to independent inspections.

Contact Belmarsh

Governor: Jenny Louis

Telephone: 020 8331 4400
Monday to Friday, 7am to 8pm, weekends, 7am to 5pm
Fax: 020 8331 4401
Find out about call charges

Email: businesshub.belmarsh@justice.gov.uk

Twitter: Follow Belmarsh on Twitter

Address

HMP Belmarsh
Western Way
Thamesmead
London
SE28 0EB

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Belmarsh, call the safer custody hotline and leave a message. Someone will call you back within 24 hours.

Telephone: 0208 331 4890
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, weekends from 8am to midday

Email: safercustody-belmarsh@justice.gov.uk

In an emergency, call 0208 331 4781 or 0208 331 4866.

Published 19 May 2020
Last updated 11 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Governor change.

  2. Covid updates

  3. Updated visit info

  4. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  5. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  6. Updated visiting information in line with new national restrictions in England.

  7. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  8. Added information about secure video calling.

  9. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  10. Updated safer custody hotline number

  11. First published.