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

Now that regular COVID testing of people in the wider community has ended, you are no longer required to take a COVID test before coming to see someone for a visit, although we would still encourage you to do so.

We will continue to run social visits whilst it is safe to do so.

Visiting rules may change if there is an outbreak within the prison, this may include bringing back testing before visits for a short time to protect you, the person you are visiting and staff.

If you are unable to visit someone in prison you can still keep in touch.

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

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 will need to download the Prison Video 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.

For further information about what to do when you are worried or concerned about someone in prison visit the Prisoners’ Families helpline website.

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.

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 1 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

  2. Added link to new safer custody information under Security and safeguarding.

  3. Updated visiting information: Visits temporarily suspended

  4. Updated rules for sending in money and gifts.

  5. Updated physical contact guidance

  6. New visiting times and booking information added.

  7. 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.

  8. Updated visit info

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

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

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

  12. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  13. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

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

  15. First published.