Guidance

Durham Prison

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

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

Book and plan your visit to Durham

Durham prison is now offering visits for family, friends and significant others, in line with stage 1 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 Durham you must:

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

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

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

Visits are booked by prisoner-led application. You will then be contacted your visit directly by the prison. You can also register to use the secure video calls service. There is no telephone or online booking service available.

Visiting times:

Visiting sessions happen everyday, including weekends at the following times:

  • 10:45am to 11:30am, 2:00pm to 2:30pm

Book in advance by email.

Booking line: 0191 332 3816 Booking line opening hours: 8:30am to 4pm

Find out about call charges

Email: legalvisits.durham@hmps.gsi.gov.uk

Visiting times:

  • Monday to Friday: 9am to 10:45am 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. Equipment brought in will be sanitised using provided wipes. Upon booking you will receive an automatic email explaining the restrictions during your visit.

There is a court video link available for a prisoner’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

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. 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.

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

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 will be no refreshments available during your visit.

Family days

There are currently no family days being run.

Keep in touch with someone at Durham

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

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 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.

Email

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 prisoner, depending on the rules at Durham.

Letters

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.

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

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.

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 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 prisoner 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.

Induction

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.

Accommodation

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

Prisoners 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.

You can also get support from NEPACs, which provides support for families of prisoners.

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

Address

HMP Durham
Old Elvet
Durham
DH1 3HU

See map

Safer custody hotline

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

Telephone: 0191 332 3695 (ask to be put through to safer custody)
Find out about call charges

For less urgent queries, email safercustodydurham@justice.gov.uk. This mailbox is monitored Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

Published 5 May 2020
Last updated 26 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated rules for sending in money and gifts.

  2. Updated physical contact guidance

  3. New visiting times and booking information added.

  4. 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.

  5. Updated visit info

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

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

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

  9. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  10. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  11. Updated information to include confirmation of secure video calls being available at this prison.

  12. First published.