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

Belmarsh is now offering visits for family, friends and significant others, in line with stage 2 of the National Framework for Prisons.

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.

We are now allowing physical contact at social visits following a negative rapid test. Find out more here.

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

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003. You will not be able to book a visit using this number.

To visit someone in Belmarsh you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit in advance
  • have the required ID with you when you go

A visit can be booked up to 2 weeks in advance.

Contact Belmarsh if you have any questions about visiting.

Help with the cost of your visit

If you get certain benefits or have an NHS health certificate, you might be able to get help with the costs of your visit, including:

  • travel to Belmarsh
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

Belmarsh is running a limited visits schedule. Visits are also happening differently than normal, observing strict guidelines, which must be followed.

You can book your visit by telephone. You can also register to use the secure video calls service. There is no online booking service available.

Booking line: 0208 331 4750
The booking line is open Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 3pm
Find out about call charges

You can arrive 30-40 minutes before the time of your visit to go through security and check in.

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 9:15am to 10am, 11am to 11:45am
  • Friday: 9:15am to 10am
  • Saturday: 9:15am to 10am, 11am to 11:45am

You can book face-to-face legal visits by calling 0208 331 4750 or email legalvisits.belmarsh@justice.gov.uk. The booking line is open Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 15:00pm

To book legal visits via Videolink, email videolinkbelmarsh@justice.gov.uk

Getting to Belmarsh

Find Belmarsh on a map

The closest railway stations are Woolwich Arsenal and Plumstead. From Plumstead, you can walk to Belmarsh, or from Woolwich Arsenal you can take a bus.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is a visitors car park with spaces for Blue Badge holders.

Entering Belmarsh

All visitors, aged 16 or older must prove their identity before entering the prison. Read the list of acceptable forms of ID when visiting a prison.

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. On your first visit, you will have your photo taken. You may have your fingerprints taken and an eye scan. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.

Belmarsh has a strict dress code policy, which means visitors should wear smart, family-friendly clothes (no ripped clothing, no vests, no low-cut tops, no shorts, no short dresses, no sports team clothing, no watches, only minimal jewellery, no offensive slogans and no headwear, other than that worn for religious reasons).

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Belmarsh. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker (you will need a £1 coin) or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats.

You will be told the rules by an officer at the start of your visit. If you break the rules, your visit could be cancelled and you could be banned from visiting again.

Visiting facilities

There is a family-friendly visitors centre run by the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT).

Visitors should arrive to the visitors centre to book in for a visit. There are currently no refreshments or childrens play facilies available.

Telephone: 0208 317 3888
Email: belmarsh@prisonadvice.org.uk

Family days

There are currently no family days being run.

Keep in touch with someone at Belmarsh

There are several ways you can keep in touch with someone 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

Prisoners 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.

You can no longer send money by bank transfer, cheque, postal order or send cash by post.

If you cannot use the online service, you may be able to apply for an exemption - for example if you:

  • are unable to use a computer, a smart phone or the internet
  • do not have a debit card

This will allow you to send money by post.

Gifts and parcels

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

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

Friends and families of prisoners are permitted to send books directly to their loved ones, or can order books from approved retailers, which can source and send the books on to prisoners.

For the full list of approved retailers, you can read the HMPPS Incentives Policy, Annex F.

Life at Belmarsh

Belmarsh is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where prisoners 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 someone 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 prisoner’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 prisoners are accommodated at Belmarsh, across 4 main units, made up of single, double and triple rooms.

Education and work

Prisoners 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.

Prisoners 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 prisoners 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

Prisoners 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 prisoners in our care. Through the Gate continues this support after release.

The Shannon Trust helps by training prisoners 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 8331 4682

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 prisoner 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 14 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated booking line number

  2. Updated physical contact guidance

  3. Updated PACT family support phone number.

  4. Change to visits booking number.

  5. New visiting times and booking information added.

  6. Prison moved into National Stage 3 framework and is now preparing to open visits for family, friends and significant others. We will update this page with specific visiting information as soon as possible.

  7. Governor change.

  8. Covid updates

  9. Updated visit info

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

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

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

  13. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  14. Added information about secure video calling.

  15. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  16. Updated safer custody hotline number

  17. First published.