Guidance

Visit someone in prison during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Information and guidance about visiting prisons in England and Wales.

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Prison visits in England & Wales

From 29 March, prisons in England and Wales will resume social visits when it is safe to do so. This will be when a prison achieves stage 3 of the National Framework for Prisons. This decision will be made by HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) in partnership with health partners.

The below restrictions apply because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that it’s important to check local guidance regularly as the situation in individual prisons may change. Find out which prisons have social visits

If you are unable to visit someone in prison you can still keep in touch. Find out about other ways of keeping in touch.

When not to visit a prison

You should not visit anyone in a prison if you are self-isolating or if you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new and persistent cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started, or if you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 you must self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken.

If you have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, you must restart the 10-day isolation period from the day you develop symptoms.

In addition to the above, you should not visit anyone in a prison if you or anyone in your household visiting with you:

  • are self-isolating because someone in your household has been unwell with COVID-19
  • have been asked to isolate by the Test & Trace service (England) or Test, Trace, Protect service (Wales)
  • have been in close contact with anyone recently who has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating

Who can visit an adult prison

To visit someone in an adult prison, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult (see Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group)
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, or an individual on whom the person in prison relies on for emotional support Who can visit a young offender institute (YOI) or secure training centre (STC)

Who can visit a YOI or STC

To visit someone in a YOI or STC, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult (see Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group)
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, an individual on whom the person in YOI or STC relies on for emotional support, or a social worker for looked after children (LAC)
  • an adult, though not the parent, who is part of the same household as the parent of the dependent child To note, siblings who are classed as LAC may need a social worker to attend with them.

Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group

The following rules apply:

  • 1 adult can visit a prisoner with up to 1 other adult
  • if you’re the only adult visiting, you can bring up to 2 children
  • if you’re visiting with another adult, you can only bring 1 child
  • all visitors must live together in the same household except if you are parents of a prisoner aged under 18 and you live apart

Visiting rules

During your visit you must:

  • follow all prison COVID-secure guidelines and measures to ensure your, the prisoners’ and staff safety, following advice from prison staff as necessary
  • stay over 2 metres away from other people during your visit, with no physical contact allowed, except with regard to adults and/or children who are with you visiting the prison
  • wear a face covering
  • remove face coverings if staff need to carry out security checks

You cannot bring any refreshments to a prison, except if you are bringing food or milk for a baby. You can ask staff for water. Play facilities will not be available at any prison.

We will update this page when the rules about prison visits change. You can also follow @HMPPS on Twitter and read our rolling update page.

Published 14 July 2020
Last updated 29 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added information about visiting prisons

  2. Updated with information about prison social visits being suspended due to the current national lockdown.

  3. Updated to reflect changes in tiering

  4. Updated to reflect tier 4 in England and alert level 4 in Wales.

  5. Addition of information related to Tier 3 areas.

  6. Updated as a result of local restriction tiers.

  7. Updates to include information about new rules in Wales.

  8. Updated due to national restrictions beginning on 5 November.

  9. Additional information about Wales added.

  10. Updated page with information about Local COVID Alert Levels

  11. Update to guidance on prison visits

  12. First published.