Guidance

Pentonville Prison

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

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Book and plan your visit to Pentonville

Pentonville 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.

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.

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

HMP Pentonville 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.

Booking line: 0300 060 6504
The booking line is open: Monday to Friday 9:15am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Monday to Friday: 1:45pm to 2:40pm and 3:20pm to 4:15pm

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

There are currently no legal visits taking place.

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

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.

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.

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

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 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.

Family days

There are currently no family days available, in line with coronavirus restrictions.

Keep in touch with someone at Pentonville

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

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 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 prisoner, 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.

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

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.

Prisoners are allowed one parcel every 6 months.

Family and friends can hand books in for prisoners at the visitors centre before any visit, 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.

Prisoners 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 prisoners to be ‘listeners’ to help support other prisoners going through difficult times.

Arrival and first night

When a prisoner 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 prisoners of all physical abilities.

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

Education and work

Prisoners have access to education and training provided by Novus.

All prisoners 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 prisoners. 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 prisoners 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 17 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added link to information about testing for physical contact at visits.

  2. New visiting times and booking information added.

  3. 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.

  4. visits update

  5. Updated visit info

  6. Updated visit info

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

  8. Covid update

  9. Updated visiting times and visiting procedure changes in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  10. Added confirmation of secure video calls being made available at this prison.

  11. added survey link

  12. First published.