Guidance

The Verne Prison

The Verne is a prison on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, for men convicted of a sex offence.

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 The Verne

To visit someone in The Verne you must:

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

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 The Verne.

Contact The Verne 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 The Verne
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

You can book your visit online.

You can also book by telephone if you have been sent a visiting order by The Verne. Residents can request this internally. You will be asked to confirm the visiting order number over the phone.

Booking line: 01305 825 014
Monday to Friday, 2pm to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Email (enquiries only): socialvisits.theverne@hmps.gsi.gov.uk

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Saturday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Sunday: 2pm to 4pm

You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the start of your visit to go through security. Visitors will not be admitted to the visiting hall after 3:30pm.

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

Allow a minimum of 24 hours notice when requesting a visit.

Include your full name and date of birth, the name and address of your law firm or agency and the full name and prisoner number of the resident you wish to visit. Also mention if you want to take a laptop or recording device into the prison.

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday: 9am to 11:30am, 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Saturday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Sunday: 2pm to 4pm

Getting to The Verne

Find The Verne on a map

The closest railway station is Weymouth. From there, you can take a bus to the Isle of Portland. There is also a taxi rank at the station.

To plan your journey by public transport:

The Verne has limited parking for visitors, including space for Blue Badge holders.

Entering The Verne

All visitors over 18 must bring the required ID.

This should be either one of the following documents:

  • passport
  • driving licence (photo card)
  • European Community identity card

Or 2 of the following documents:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • rail or bus pass (with photo card)
  • employer or student ID card (must include a photo)
  • young person’s proof of age card (must include a photo)
  • trade union membership card
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass
  • benefit book
  • asylum registration card (ARC)
  • standard acknowledgement letter
  • utility bill showing name and address

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by a security dog and have your fingerprints and photograph taken.

The Verne has a family-friendly dress code 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 or ripped jeans. Additionally, you cannot wear flip-flops and all hoods must be worn down. You will need to remove coats, scarves, gloves and hats (except religious head coverings) before you go in.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £10 in coins (notes are not allowed). The money can be used to buy food and drink from the vending machines in the visiting hall.

There are strict controls on what you can take into The Verne. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker (which requires a £1 coin) or with security. 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.

Keep in touch with someone at The Verne

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

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 The Verne 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 The Verne.

Letters

Include the person’s name and prisoner number on the envelope.

If you do not know their prisoner number, contact The Verne.

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 also send:

  • postal orders
  • cheques
  • cash

Postal orders and cheques should be made payable to ‘HM Prison Service’ and include the resident’s name, prisoner number and date of birth on the back.

Gifts and parcels

Family and friends can hand in books and legal documents for residents before a visit.

Other items may be accepted by post but you must write to the governor for permission beforehand. If you don’t do this, your parcel will be returned.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Life at The Verne

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Dorset Safeguarding Adults Board.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at The Verne, 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.

Induction

Each person who arrives at The Verne 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.

Accommodation

Nearly 600 men live at The Verne across 6 units. Each unit has its own common room and dining area. Residents have keys to their own rooms.

Residents have access to a library, operated by Dorset County Council, which includes books in multiple languages and a variety of magazines and newspapers.

There is also a well-equipped gym, fitness and sports programme.

Education and work

The Verne operates a full education programme provided by Weston College, with links to the Open University for distance learning courses.

There is also a wide range of work opportunities for residents throughout the prison, such as in the kitchens, gardens, recycling centre and barbers. Men can work as wing assistants, wing peer support workers and orderlies. There are also roles within The Verne’s woodmill, assembling furniture, and in The Verne’s 4 contract workshops which cover:

  • creating breakfast packs for other prisons
  • repairing televisions
  • repairing bicycles
  • creating leather goods for use in prisons.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem, write to The Verne and address your letter to the complaints coordinator within the Business Hub.

If you can’t resolve the problem directly, you can make a complaint to HM Prison and Probation Service.

Contact The Verne

Governor: David Bourne

Telephone: 01305 825 000
Find out about call charges

Address

HMP The Verne
Verne Common Road
Portland
Dorset
DT5 1EQ

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in The Verne call the control room.

Telephone: 01305 825 058
Find out about call charges

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Published 21 April 2020
Last updated 5 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added survey link

  2. First published.