Guidance

Pentonville Prison

Pentonville is a men’s prison and young offender institution in the London Borough of Islington, North London.

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 Pentonville

To visit someone in Pentonville you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit at least 48 hours in advance
  • have the required ID with you when you go

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

Men on remand can have up to 3 visits a week depending on availability. Men who have been convicted can have 2 visits a month and can earn extra visits for positive behaviour.

Contact Pentonville 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 Pentonville
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

You can book your visit online.

You can also book by email and telephone.

Email: socialvisits.pentonville@hmps.gsi.gov.uk
Booking line: 020 7023 7251
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:45pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 9:15am to 10:50am, 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Tuesday: 9:15am to 10:50am, 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Wednesday: 9:15am to 10:50am, 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Thursday: 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Friday: 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Saturday: 9:15am to 10:50am, 2:15pm to 3:50pm
  • Sunday: 2pm to 3:50pm

You will not be admitted if you are more than half an hour late.

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

You can also book by sending a fax request to 020 7023 7003.

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 9:30am to 10:30am, 10:45am to 11:45am, 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3pm to 4pm, 4:15pm to 5pm
  • Tuesday: 9:30am to 10:30am, 10:45am to 11:45am, 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3pm to 4pm, 4:15pm to 5pm
  • Wednesday: 9:30am to 10:30am, 10:45am to 11:45am, 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3pm to 4pm, 4:15pm to 5pm
  • Thursday: 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3pm to 4pm, 4:15pm to 5pm
  • Friday: 9:15am to 11:15am, 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3pm to 4pm, 4:15pm to 5pm

You can also book a video link by writing to this email address. These should be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.

Getting to Pentonville

Find Pentonville on a map

Pentonville is a 5-minute walk from Caledonian Road underground station or Caledonian Road & Barnsbury overground station. The closest mainline railway station is London King’s Cross. Several local bus routes pass the prison.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is no visitor parking at the prison and local roads are restricted to permit holders.

Entering Pentonville

On your first visit to Pentonville, you will be photographed and have your fingerprints taken for the security system. These will be used to confirm your identity on future visits.

You will also need to bring one of the following types of ID to every visit:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • European Community or other foreign national identity card
  • benefit book
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass (with photo card)

Children under 16 should bring their birth certificate.

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

Pentonville has a strict dress code policy which means visitors should dress appropriately. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like hoodies, vests, low-cut tops, high-cut shorts or dresses, ripped jeans, flip-flops or headwear other than that worn for religious reasons. Additionally, you cannot wear anything with offensive patterns or slogans, football shirts, steel toe-capped boots or motorcycle boots. You will need to remove coats, hats, gloves, metal accessories, sunglasses and smart watches before you go in. Ask in the visitors centre if you have questions about the dress code.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £20 in coins (notes are not allowed). The money can be used to buy food and drink from the tea bar in the visiting hall.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Pentonville. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats and mobile phones.

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) charity. Family and friends can relax, buy refreshments and get advice and support from the staff.

It is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and on Sunday from 12:30pm to 4:30pm.

Email: pentonville@prisonadvice.org.uk
Telephone: 020 7700 0912
Find out about call charges

There are lockers in the visitors centre to store your belongings. These take tokens which you can get for £1 from the visitors centre staff.

There is a children’s play area and a tea bar in the visiting hall.

Family days

Pentonville holds regular family days giving residents more time to spend time with their children in a more relaxed setting.

They also host Arsenal days, organised by Arsenal FC’s community team, which consist of sports activities for the whole family.

Residents can apply for these visits.

Keep in touch with someone at Pentonville

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

Phone calls

Residents do not have phones in their rooms so 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 Pentonville 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 Pentonville.

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 Pentonville.

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

When a person first arrives at Pentonville they are given a parcel label and delivery form. These can be used by a family member or friend to send a parcel into the prison. The delivery form describes what items are allowed and how to correctly label the parcel. There is a maximum weight limit of 15kg.

Residents are allowed one parcel every 6 months.

In addition to this, family and friends can hand books in for residents at the visitors centre before any visit.

Residents on the ‘enhanced’ behaviour level can also apply for a family member or friend to send them a games console and games.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Contact Pentonville for more information on sending parcels.

Life at Pentonville

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by the Islington Safeguarding Adults Board.

Pentonville also trains residents to be ‘listeners’ to help support other residents going through difficult times.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Pentonville, 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 get to speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling, and see a medical professional to address any immediate health and wellbeing needs.

Induction

Each person who arrives at Pentonville gets an induction that lasts 4 days. 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 1300 men live at Pentonville in a mixture of single and shared rooms across 7 wings.

There are 4 gym areas offering a range of activities for residents of all physical abilities.

Pentonville runs a multi-faith chaplaincy service which offers religious services and teaching to all residents, whatever their faith. They also provide counselling and support to residents.

Education and work

Residents have access to education and training provided by Novus.

All residents are offered help improving their literacy, numeracy and language skills and can study for qualifications in a broad range of work-related subjects, including:

  • business
  • information and communications technology (ICT)
  • journalism
  • health and safety
  • painting and decorating
  • carpentry
  • industrial cleaning
  • barbering
  • radio production
  • customer services
  • food safety

Pentonville runs 2 workshops providing employment for residents. The textiles workshop produces bedding for prisons and the recycling workshop recycles waste from within the prison. There are also many roles available throughout Pentonville, including cleaning, orderly duties, catering and barbering.

Organisations Pentonville works with

Pentonville works with Catch 22, a not-for-profit business, to help residents with gang involvement and related issues.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Pentonville

The Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) and Phoenix Futures provide individual support with a range of issues including family estrangement, child contact and social services.

To get help with a family issue, email socialvisits.pentonville@hmps.gsi.gov.uk.

Problems and complaints

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

Contact Pentonville

Governor: Ian Blakeman

Telephone: 020 7023 7000
Fax: 020 7023 7001
Find out about call charges

Address

HMP/YOI Pentonville
Caledonian Road
London
N7 8TT

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Pentonville, call the safer custody hotline. If you get an answer machine, leave as much information as possible and a telephone number for staff to call you back. You will receive a response within 24 hours.

Telephone: 020 7023 7341
Find out about call charges

You can also send an email to: safercustodypentonville@justice.gov.uk

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

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

Published 7 April 2020
Last updated 5 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. added survey link

  2. First published.