Durham Prison

Durham Prison is a men’s prison in the city of Durham.

Prison visits are temporarily suspended following instructions for people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We will update here as soon as this changes. 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.

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Book and plan your visit to Durham

To visit someone in Durham you must:

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

Residents can have up to 3 visitors over the age of 10 at one time, plus younger children. At least one visitor must be 18 or older at every visit.

If a person in Durham is on remand, they can have 3 visits per week. If they are convicted, they can have 2 visits per month. Convicted residents who are on an ‘enhanced privilege’ level can have an extra 2 weekday visits per month.

Contact Durham 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 Durham
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

The first time you visit, you must book by telephone.

Booking line: 0191 332 3417
Monday, 9am to 4pm
Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to midday
Find out about call charges

You can book all other visits online or by telephone.

You can also book in person at the visitors centre. Complete and hand in the application form at these times:

  • Monday to Friday, 12:30pm to 2pm
  • Wednesday, 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Only one visit per resident can be booked at a time this way.

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Tuesday: 9:30am to 11:30am and 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Wednesday: 9:30am to 11:30am, 1:45pm to 3:45pm and 5:15pm to 7pm
  • Thursday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Friday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Saturday: 9:30am to 11:30am and 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Sunday: 9:30am to 11:30am and 1:45pm to 3:45pm

Book in advance by telephone or email.

Booking line: 0191 332 3816
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to midday and 1pm to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 9am to 11:30am, 2pm to 3:45pm and 5:45pm to 7pm
  • Tuesday: 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 3:45pm
  • Wednesday: 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 3:45pm
  • Thursday: 9am to 11:30am, 2pm to 3:45pm and 5:45pm to 7pm
  • Friday: 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 3:45pm

If you need to bring equipment with you, such as a laptop, you must tell booking line staff when you book.

There is a court video link available for a resident’s legal representatives if there is spare capacity. Ask booking line staff for more information.

Getting to Durham Prison

Find Durham on a map

The closest railway station is Durham, around a 20-minute walk away, or you can take a taxi.

Durham bus station is around a 15-minute walk from the prison.

To plan your journey by public transport use:

There is no car parking available at the prison. You can use public car parks near the prison. There are 2 disabled car-parking spaces available at the visitors centre for Blue Badge holders. You must complete a parking form at reception and display your Blue Badge.

Entering Durham Prison

You should arrive 30 minutes before your booked visiting time and report to the visitors centre.

All visitors aged 16 and older need to bring 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 and photo of the visitor)
  • European Community identity card

If you do not have these, staff may accept 3 or more of the following types of ID:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • CitizenCard
  • cheque book, credit or debit card
  • employer or student ID card
  • rent book
  • young persons proof of age card
  • foreign ID card

For children the following forms of ID are acceptable:

  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • child benefit letter or tax credit letter with the child’s details

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs. Visitors over the age of 10 will have their photo taken.

Durham has a strict dress code policy, which means visitors should wear smart clothes (no vests, no low-cut or revealing tops, no short shorts, no short dresses, no see-through clothing, no football shirts, no offensive slogans and no headwear, other than that worn for religious reasons). Visitors are also not allowed to wear smart watches, sunglasses, steel toe cap footwear or metal hair accessories.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £15 in coins (notes are not allowed). The money can be used to buy food and drink from the refreshments bar in the visiting hall. The visitors centre cannot change notes for coins.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Durham. 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 visitors and family support centre run by Nepacs. Staff and volunteers in the visitors centre can provide you with information and support.

There is a small cafe where you can buy snacks and drinks and a play area for younger children.

There is also a snack bar and children’s play areas in the visits hall.

Family days

There are special father and child visits every Thursday morning and special family visits during school holidays.

A ‘family learning visit’ also takes place on a Friday evening. This is where men can spend time helping their children with their homework.

These are additional to normal visits. Ask the visitors centre for details.

Keep in touch with someone at Durham

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

Phone calls

Residents have phones in their rooms but they will always have 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 Durham using the Email a Prisoner service.

You might also be able to attach photos and receive replies from the resident, depending on the rules at Durham.


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 Durham.

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.

Gifts and parcels

People in Durham are given a list of approved items that can be sent to them as gifts. Contact Durham for more information on what’s allowed.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Life at Durham

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by County Durham Safeguarding Adults Inter-Agency Parntership.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Durham, 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.

They will be able to have a shower and speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling and ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.


Each person who arrives at Durham 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.


Almost 1000 men live at Durham, mostly on remand (they have not yet been sentenced).

There are 7 wings plus a segregation unit and healthcare centre.

Education and work

Residents in Durham Prison have the opportunity to take part in education, vocational training and employability courses.

Education is provided by Novus and includes:

  • skills for life
  • IT
  • customer service
  • art
  • horticulture
  • English for speakers of other languages

Vocational training is available that reflects the local employment market. It covers:

  • construction
  • IT
  • warehousing
  • recycling
  • food and hospitality

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Durham

The visitors centre at Durham is run by Nepacs who can offer help and support.

Contact Nepacs on: 0191 332 3676
Find out about call charges

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Durham. 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 Durham in response to independent inspections.

Contact Durham

Governor: Phil Husband

Telephone (24 hours): 01913 323 400
Fax: 01913 323 401
Find out about call charges


HMP Durham
Old Elvet

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Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Durham, call the safer custody hotline.

Telephone: 01913 323 400 (ask to be put through to safer custody)
Find out about call charges

For less urgent queries, email This mailbox is monitored Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

Published 5 May 2020
Last updated 25 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information to include confirmation of secure video calls being available at this prison.

  2. First published.