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.

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 Swaleside

To visit someone in Swaleside you must:

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

Visits must be booked by 1pm on the day before the visit.

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

There may be a limit to the number of visits a person can have. You can check this with Swaleside.

Contact Swaleside 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 Swaleside
  • 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.

Booking line: 0300 060 6604
Monday to Friday, 9am to midday, 12:30pm to 4pm
Find out about call charges

There are different visiting times for residents of H wing.

General visiting times:

  • Monday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Tuesday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Wednesday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Saturday (except 2nd Saturday of the month): 1:30pm to 3:30pm
  • Sunday (except last Sunday of the month): 1:30pm to 3:30pm

H wing residents visiting times:

  • Thursday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Saturday (2nd Saturday of the month only): 1:30pm to 3:30pm
  • Sunday (last Sunday of the month only): 1:30pm to 3:30pm


You can also book by telephone and fax.

Booking line: 0300 060 6604
Open daily, 9am to midday, 12:30pm to 4pm
Fax: 01795 804 123
Find out about call charges

Visits must be booked by 11am on the day before the visit.

Visiting times are Monday to Friday, 2pm to 3pm and 3pm to 4pm.

Getting to Swaleside

Find Swaleside on a map

The closest railway station is Sheerness-on-Sea, where you can catch a bus or taxi to the prison.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is a visitors car park, including space for Blue Badge holders.

Entering Swaleside

All visitors need to bring 2 forms of ID. At least one should be photo ID and one should show the visitor’s address.

Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass
  • employer or student ID card (if it shows the name of the visitor and the employer)
  • European Community or other foreign national identity card

Acceptable forms of other ID include:

  • water, electricity or gas bill
  • bank or building society statement
  • credit card statement

Bills and statements must be dated within the last 3 months.

All visitors will pass through a metal detector and be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.

Swaleside has a family-friendly dress code policy which means visitors should dress appropriately. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like vests, low-cut tops, high-cut shorts or dresses, see-through or ripped clothing or headwear other than that worn for religious reasons. Additionally, you cannot wear anything with offensive patterns or slogans, cargo or combat trousers, slippers, padded coats or anything fitted with large buckles, chains or a lot of zips. You will need to remove hats, scarves, sunglasses, gloves, watches and excessive jewellery before you go in.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £20. The money can be used to buy food and drink in the visiting hall.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Swaleside. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker, which requires a £5 refundable deposit. 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 centre run by Spurgeons. Family and friends can relax, buy refreshments and get advice and support from the staff.

Telephone: 01795 804 081
Find out about call charges

Keep in touch with someone at Swaleside

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

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.


You can send emails to someone in Swaleside 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 Swaleside.


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 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.

Gifts and parcels

Residents can apply for permission to receive items from friends and family. The items can then be handed in at the property desk in the visitors centre.

There are limits to the number of items a resident can receive. You can check this with the visitors centre.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

It’s not possible to send items or property by post. You can send residents money instead 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 men convicted of serious offences can make positive use of long sentences.

Security and safeguarding

Every person at Swaleside 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 Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board.

Arrival and first night

When a resident 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 person who 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 1100 men live at Swaleside across 8 wings. Most men get their own rooms.

Education and work

Residents 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. Residents 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.

Support at Swaleside

The Spurgeons family services team provides a range of information, guidance and support to families and friends of residents. Ask in the visitors centre for more information.

Problems and complaints

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

Contact Swaleside

Governor: Mark Icke

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 man in Swaleside, call the safer custody hotline. If your call is sent to answerphone, leave as much information as possible and a contact number for someone to call you back. Messages are checked regularly.

Telephone: 01795 804 295
Find out about call charges

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

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Published 19 May 2020