Bristol Prison

Bristol Prison is a men’s prison in the Horfield area of Bristol.

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Book and plan your visit to Bristol prison

Bristol prison is now offering visits for family, friends and significant others, in line with stage 3 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.

Visitors will be asked to take a rapid COVID-19 test. This will be voluntary. Read more about how it will work.

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.

To visit someone in Bristol Prison you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit at least 2 working days in advance
  • have the the required ID with you when you go

At least one visitor must be 18 or older at every visit.

Men who are on remand can have 2 visits a week. Men who have been convicted (they have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing) can have 2 visits a month.

Contact Bristol Prison 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 Bristol Prison
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

Bristol prison 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. There is no online booking service available.

Visitors will be asked to take a rapid COVID-19 test. This will be voluntary. Read more about how it will work.

Booking line: 0300 060 6510
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm
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Visiting times

Monday to Sunday: 2pm to 4pm (except bank holidays)

Legal and professional visits are offered by video link only.


You can also book by telephone.

Booking line: 0117 942 4074
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Visitor testing

Since April last year we have been testing staff and those living in custody, to identify people with and without symptoms of COVID-19 and prevent the spread of infection.

We now want to see what impact visitor testing has on preventing the spread of infection. We are expanding our current testing for people living and working in prisons and will pilot voluntary visitor and prisoner rapid testing in Bristol.

These tests are voluntary and you will not be denied a visit if you don’t want a test. However, taking part in the pilot will help prevent infections from coming into the prison, and keep visits running. It will also support our efforts to move towards a more flexible prison regime and a more relaxed visits environment.

Taking a test

  • You will be asked to take a rapid test the day before you are due to visit and show evidence of a negative result either through a photo on your phone or through an email
  • We will also be offering the person you are visiting a rapid test the day before you are due to visit
  • You will then be asked to take a second rapid test on arrival at the prison. Visitors should allow for around 45 minutes to have their test done
  • The test and results should be uploaded on the NHS website while you are at the prison. You should do this using your mobile phone, or on a phone provided by us
  • You will be able to test and upload the results to the NHS website yourself and we will not hold any data about your test result
  • If you do not upload the results at the prison, they must be uploaded to the NHS website within 7 days. Positive results must be uploaded within 24 hours
  • You should not take the test if you have had a confirmed case of coronavirus within the last 90 days as it may return a false positive

Testing negative

If the test is negative, you can continue with your visit. All visitors will still have to wear a mask and follow social distancing measures.

This is because although rapid tests reduce the risk you will transmit COVID-19, they do not catch all cases, and a risk still remains. This is also in line with the current rules in place in the community.

Testing positive

  • If you test positive, then your visit will need to be postponed until after the isolation period ends
  • You will need to return home, ideally avoiding public transport, and book a PCR (or lab) test
  • We will speak to the person in custody who was expecting a visit and let them know what has happened
  • A postponed visit won’t be taken out of an individual’s visit allocation

Do my children need to take part in the testing?

Children under the age of 11 don’t need to take part in the testing.

Secondary school children will be offered a test, in line with community testing. This is voluntary and will not impact on their ability to take part in the visit.

Will I still need to follow the social distancing measures in prison?

We currently need to continue with all of the preventative measures in place such as social distancing and wearing masks, even if your test result is negative.

This is because although rapid tests reduce the risk you will transmit COVID-19, they do not catch all cases, and a risk still remains. This is also in line with the current rules in place in the community.

Taking part in this testing will help keep you and your families safe. It will also allow us to move towards a more relaxed visits environment for you to enjoy with your families.

Getting to Bristol Prison

Find Bristol Prison on a map

The closest railway stations are Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, where you can connect with local bus services. All buses numbered from 70 to 79 pass the prison and can be caught from near the central bus station.

To plan your journey by public transport:

If coming by car, you will need to park on the local roads as there is no visitor parking at the prison. There is a parking space for Blue Badge holders on the main road opposite the prison entrance.

Entering Bristol Prison

All visitors aged 16 and older should have either one of the following types of photo ID:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • benefit book
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass
  • annual public transport season ticket (with photo card)
  • employer ID card (if it shows the name of the visitor and the employer)
  • European Community identity card

Or 2 of the following documents:

  • birth or marriage certificate
  • rail or bus pass with photo
  • cheque book or a signed credit or debit card
  • employer ID card that doesn’t show the name of the visitor or the employer
  • trade union or student union membership card
  • library card with signature
  • rent book
  • non-EU foreign identity or residents card

Expired IDs from these lists may be accepted if they appear satisfactory in other ways.

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.

Visitors should dress appropriately. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like revealing clothing or clothing with offensive slogans. Ask at the visitors centre if you have questions about appropriate dress.

Each group of visitors is allowed to take in a maximum of £50 to buy food and drink from the snack bar in the visiting hall.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Bristol Prison. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you behind. Lockers are available in the visitors centre. 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 visitors centre run by The Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT). Family and friends can relax, buy refreshments and get advice and support from the staff.

It is open from midday on visiting days.

Telephone: 01179 244 866
Find out about call charges

The visiting hall includes a play area for children and a snack bar.

Family days

Family days are not currently available.

Keep in touch with someone at Bristol Prison

There are several ways you can keep in touch with someone during their time at Bristol Prison.

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 secure video calls work

Phone calls

All prisoners have phones in their rooms which they can use at any time. The phones do not accept incoming calls so they will always need to call you. They have to buy phone credits to do this.

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.

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.


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

You might also be able to attach photos and receive replies, depending on the rules at Bristol Prison.


You can write at any time.

Include the person’s name and prisoner number on the envelope.

If you do not know their prisoner number, contact Bristol Prison.

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 also send:

  • postal orders
  • cheques
  • cash

Postal orders and cheques should be made payable to ‘The Governor’ and include the prisoners name and prisoner number on the back as well as your name and address.

Gifts and parcels

Friends and family can hand in the following items before a visit:

  • underwear, socks and court clothes (shirts, trousers, shoes, ties and jackets)
  • books (not puzzle books or magazines)

It’s also possible to send these items and other kinds of clothing and footwear by post. For this, you will need a property voucher which the prisoner must apply for and send you by post. Fix the voucher to your parcel before sending it in.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the order. They will be opened and checked by officers. For court clothes, allow at least 5 days for the parcel to be searched and reach the prisoner.

Any parcels without a property voucher or that look to be tampered with will be refused.

Prisoners can buy a variety of items for themselves from the canteen and through a catalogue system.

Contact Bristol Prison for more information on gifts and parcels.

Life at Bristol Prison

Bristol Prison is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where men can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Bristol Safeguarding Adults Board.

Prisoners can also be trained by the Samaritans to be ‘listeners’ to help support people going through difficult times.

Arrival and first night

When a prisoner first arrives at Bristol Prison, they will be able to contact a family member by phone. (In some circumstances a call may be made on his behalf.) This could be quite late in the evening, depending on the time they arrive.

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

If the prisoner has cash when they arrive, they will have the chance to buy canteen supplies and add money to their phone account.


Each person who arrives at Bristol Prison 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

They will also get a gym induction so they can safely use the gym facilities.

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


About 500 men live at Bristol Prison across 5 main wings. One wing has single rooms while the rest are shared.

Education and work

Prisoners have access to a range of work, training and education opportunities. Courses include:

  • maths
  • English
  • IT
  • health and safety
  • food safety
  • catering
  • cleaning
  • NVQs levels 1 and 2 in warehouse and storage and performing manufacturing operations
  • bike mechanics
  • peer mentoring
  • healthier lifestyles

Employability skills workshops are run monthly to give help with CVs, job applications and interview skills.

Prisoners can also get help and support on issues such as health and wellbeing, substance misuse, housing, debt and family relationships in preparation for release.

Organisations Bristol works with

Bristol works with Catch 22, a not-for-profit business, to help prisoners prepare for their release. They provide support with things like housing, employment, finance and relationships.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Problems and complaints

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

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

Contact Bristol Prison

Governor: James Lucas

Telephone: 0117 372 3100
Fax: 0117 372 3113
Find out about call charges


HMP Bristol
19 Cambridge Road

See map

Safety hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Bristol, call the safety line. Leave as much information as possible and a telephone number for staff to call you back.

Telephone: 0117 372 3382
Find out about call charges

In an emergency, call the main telephone number and ask to speak to the duty governor.

Help us to improve this page. Give us your feedback in this 2-minute survey.

Published 15 January 2020
Last updated 6 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. 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.

  2. Updated prison info

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

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

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

  6. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  7. Updated information about secure video calls.

  8. Visit information update

  9. First published.