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

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.

To visit someone in Swaleside you must:

  • be on that prisoners 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 prisoner 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

Swaleside is currently operating a limited visits schedule for family and friends. You can book your visit by telephone or via email at the address below.


Booking line: 0300 060 6604
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

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

You will be given a full hour once inside the visits hall.

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 2pm to 4pm

Hour booking slots are available.

Bookings can be made by emailing:

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, aged 16 or older must prove their identity before entering the prison. Read the list of acceptable forms of ID when visiting a prison.

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, flip flops, 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.

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

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 £1 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 Spurgeonsteam in the hall.

Telephone: 01795 804 042
Find out about call charges

Keep in touch with someone at Swaleside

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

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 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 prisoner, depending on the rules at Swaleside.


You can write at any time.

Include the Prisoners 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.

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. .

Family and friends 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.

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 men 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.

All safeguarding processes are overseen by the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board.

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 1100 men live at Swaleside across 8 wings. All men get their own rooms.

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.

Support at Swaleside

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

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.

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.