Staying in touch with someone in prison

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Letters, video and telephone calls

Letters

You can contact a prisoner by writing to them. Write the person’s prisoner number on the envelope. Normally there’s no limit on the number of letters you can send.

Most letters sent to and from prison are checked by prison staff.

Prisons cannot open letters from solicitors and courts except in special cases, for example if they suspect a letter is not really from a legal adviser.

You can complain to the prison if you think your letters are being read when they should not be, or if your letters are not reaching the prisoner.

Video calls

You can make video calls to people in some prisons using your mobile phone or tablet.

Video calls are free at the moment. This is because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Calls can last up to 30 minutes. A prisoner is allowed 1 video call a month.

Who can call

You must be over 18 and on the prisoner’s list of friends and family.

You can invite up to 3 other people (of any age) on the call if they are on the prisoner’s visitor list.

How to call

  1. Find out if the prison offers video calls.

  2. Install an app on your phone or tablet (it can take up to 24 hours for your account on the app to be verified).

  3. Check if everyone who wants to join the call is on the prisoner’s list of friends and family.

  4. Request a video call using the app or ask the prisoner to request a call.

  5. Prison staff will schedule the call and send confirmation by email.

All video calls are recorded. Prison staff may watch video calls while they are happening.

Telephone calls

The prisoner has to call you using a prison phone.

They can only call people 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’re able to call.

Prison staff can listen to and record most types of call. Some calls are not monitored, for example when a prisoner calls a legal adviser.

You can also exchange voice messages with a prisoner using the Prison Voicemail service.