Swaleside Prison

Swaleside is a men’s high security prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. It is part of the Sheppey Cluster, along with Elmley and Standford Hill.

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Book and plan your visit to Swaleside

HMP Swaleside offers visits for family and friends. Visiting times and availability may change at short notice. You should contact the prison direct for any queries.

To visit someone in Swaleside you must:

  • Be on the prisoners approved visitor list
  • Book your visit in advance (before 1pm the day before the date of the visit)
  • Have the required ID with you when you go
  • Have at least one over 18 attending the visit

You can book two social visits per calendar month, four weeks before the date of the visits. However, if you wish to have any further visits within the same calendar month, you will need to request last minute availability up to five days before the additional visit dates.

Contact Swaleside if you have any questions about visiting.

How to book family and friends visits

You can book a visit via the booking telephone line or booking email address.

Telephone Booking Line: 0300 060 6604

Booking line open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Find out about call charges

Email Bookings:

This email address is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response.

Visiting times

  • Tuesday: 2:15 to 3:45pm
  • Wednesday: 2:15 to 3:45pm
  • Thursday: 2:15 to 3:45pm
  • Sunday: 2:15 to 3:45pm

Social visits are scheduled on a rota basis, dependant on the wing of the prisoner.

Please note, due to the regime, visiting times may differ. However, you will receive a minimum of one full hour.

You can book a legal visit by email only.

Legal Visit Booking Email:

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 2:30pm to 4pm

Hour booking slots are available.

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 Swaleside
  • Somewhere to stay overnight
  • Meals

Entering Swaleside

All visitors aged 16 and over must provide valid photographic ID. Read the list of acceptable forms of ID when visiting a prison.

All visitors under 16 are encouraged to provide valid photographic ID. However, a Birth Certificate will be accepted.

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

Visitors must adhere to the prison dress code, which can be requested upon booking your visit.

You will be unable to take any personal items into the visit with you. There are lockers available within the Visit Centre which can be used to store your items during your visit.

Visiting facilities

There is a family-friendly visitor’s centre run by the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT).

You will need to book in at the visitors centre before your visit commences. The visitors centre opening hours are:

  • Tuesday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Wednesday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Thursday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Sunday: 12pm to 16:30

There are also refreshments available during your visit at the Aero Café within the hall, this operates a cashless system. You will need to ensure that you have your bank card available.

For further information, please contact the Pact team within the visitors centre:

Telephone: 01795 804123
Find out about call charges

Secure video calls

To have a secure video call with someone in this prison you need to:

  • Download the Prison Video app
  • Create an account
  • Register all visitors
  • Add the prisoner to your contact list
  • Book a video visit via the app

Read more about how it works

Video visits are held every Saturday and Sunday at 9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. Each slot is 30 minutes and are scheduled on a wing rotation.

Family Days

HMP Swaleside run 6 Family Days per year. Details on how these visits run can be found here Families and significant others strategy.

Getting to Swaleside

Find Swaleside on a map

The closest railway station is Sheerness. From there you can get a taxi.

To plan your journey by public transport use:

There is a free visitors car park for those that drive here.

Keep in touch with someone at Swaleside

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

Phone calls

Prisoners have phones in their cells but will always have to call you. They must 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. This can take longer depending on individual cases.

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 Swaleside using the Email a Prisoner service.


You can write at any time.

Include the Prisoners name and prisoner number on the envelope. You must also write your own name and address on the back of the envelope.

If you do not know their prisoner number, contact Swaleside.

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

Prisoners can apply for permission to receive an annual Birthday clothing parcel which can be posted in from friends and family.

You can also send prisoners money as well which they can use to buy items through a catalogue system.

There are limits to the number of items a prisoner can receive. Please discuss these when you speak with him.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

You can also send prisoners money as well which they can use to buy items through a catalogue system.

Life at Swaleside

Swaleside is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where prisoners convicted of serious offences can make positive use of long sentences.

Security and safeguarding

Every prisoner at Swaleside 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.

Arrival and first night

When a prisoner first arrives at Swaleside, 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 ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.


Each prisoner that arrives at Swaleside 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.


Around 1,100 prisoners live at Swaleside across 8 wings. All prisoners get their own cells, access to in-cell phones and in-cell laptops.

Education and work

Prisoners have access to a broad programme of learning opportunities provided by Amersham and Wickham College. These range from basic skills, such as English and maths, to distance learning with the Open University. Swaleside is part of the Prisons ICT Academy (PICTA) which helps prepare prisoners for work in information and communications technology (ICT) roles.

Work is available throughout the prison in areas such as industrial cleaning and engineering. Prisoners are also employed by several industrial workshops through contracts with outside businesses.

Swaleside also runs a number of accredited offending behaviour programmes and non-accredited courses for personal and social development.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

To contact our head of family provision at HMP Swaleside please email:

Support at Swaleside

PACT family services team provides a range of information, guidance and support to families and friends of prisoners. Ask in the visitor’s centre for more information.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Swaleside.

HM Prison and Probation Service publishes action plans for Swaleside in response to independent inspections.

Contact Swaleside

Governor: Mark Icke

Email: Business Hub, Swaleside

Telephone: 01795 804 100
Fax: 01795 804 200
Find out about call charges

Follow Swaleside on Twitter


HMP Swaleside
Brabazon Road
Isle of Sheppey
ME12 4AX

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a prisoner at Swaleside prison that are not an immediate concern, call the safer custody hotline.

Telephone: 01795 804295
24 hour answering machine
Find out about call charges

Leave a message giving as many details as possible including the prisoners name, prisoner number and what wing they are located on if you know it. If you wish, you can leave your own details and a contact number so the prison can give you feedback, if appropriate.

You can also read more information about safer custody concerns on the Prisoners Families website.

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

Published 19 May 2020
Last updated 2 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Secure video calls update.

  2. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

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

  4. Updated visiting information: Testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  5. Updated physical contact guidance

  6. New visiting times and booking information added.

  7. visits update

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

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

  10. Updated professional visits details

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

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

  13. First published.