The Visitors' Centre at Pentonville Prison is now run by Spurgeons, the children’s charity. Our aim is to provide a supportive, friendly and welcoming environment for everybody who is visiting a prisoner, including those with children.
HMP Pentonville, Caledonian Road, London, N7 8TT
Tel: 020 7609 3860
HMP Pentonville is situated in North London.
To find the Visitors' Centre, turn right after entering the prison gates; follow the pedestrian walkway along, and the Visitors' Centre is on your left.
All visits must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. You will not, therefore, be able to visit on the same day as booking. A maximum of 3 adults and 3 children will be permitted to visit at any one time. Visitors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and proof of age may be required. Visits generally last for two hours.
Both Remand and Convicted prisoners are able to book visits for you from the inside. Convicted prisoners must book all visits from the inside. To book a visit, phone the prison's Booking Line on 020 7023 7251. Booking Line opening hours: Monday - Friday: 8.30am - 12pm and 1pm - 4.30pm (closed on bank holidays). Alternatively you can book a visit by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Only one visit can be booked per email.
When booking a visit, please provide the following information:
It depends whether the prisoner is on remand or convicted and if they are on the privileges system.
All prisoners at HMP Pentonville are part of a system for earning or losing privileges. Each prisoner is on a basic, standard or enhanced regime depending on how many privileges they have earned.
The following list gives a breakdown of the number of visits prisoners are allowed:
Give yourself plenty of time to get to HMP Pentonville; aim to arrive at least half an hour before you visit is due to start. If you arrive after 10.30am or 3pm you will not be allowed to visit.
When more than one person is visiting, you must wait for the whole group to be present. If you enter the prison and a member of your party arrives late they will not be allowed in.
You will need to bring identification with you, please see below for a list of appropriate ID. You will also need to bring a £1 coin with you to use in the locker where your belongings will be kept while you are on the visit.
All visitors who are over 18 must provide ID in order to gain entrance to the prison. If, in the opinion of a member of staff, you or someone you are with looks 18 years or older, identification may be required to confirm your age.
Bring one of the following forms of ID with you:
If you are unable to produce one of the above forms of ID, staff may accept combinations of two or more of the following:
If you are refused entrance to the prison and you need assistance, please speak to a senior member of staff at the Visitors' Centre.
Inside the visits hall is a children's play area, run by Spurgeons' staff and volunteers, which provides toys, games and playworkers for the children.
The play area at HMP Pentonville is a cheerful area in the corner of the visits hall. There are pictures of children's paintings and wildlife on the walls.
Play area opening hours
Monday: 2pm - 4pm
Wednesday: 2pm - 4pm
Friday: 2pm - 4pm
Saturday: 9.15am - 11.15am, 2pm - 4pm
Sunday: 2pm – 4pm
Additional sessions during school holidays
Tuesday: 2pm – 4pm
Thursday: 2pm – 4pm
Facilities on offer
'Family day' visits
These take place three or four times a year at HMP Pentonville, at Christmas and around Father's Day. During family days, prisoners and their families can move around the visits hall freely and there are activities such as face-painting, a treasure hunt and storytelling.
For more information
Contact Amelia Steele, Play Worker. Alternatively, you can talk to one of the Visitors’ Centre staff
020 7609 3860
The Visitors' Centre staff will go through the checking in procedures and will give you further information or help that you may require. You can buy refreshments at the Visitors' Centre and also sit and wait for your visit.
You will be asked to fill in an ‘Open Visiting Order' form stating the name, address and date of birth of each visitor. You will then be called upstairs by the number on your form to show your identification to the prison booking staff and have your photograph and fingerprints taken.
All your personal property must be placed in a locker in the Visitors’ Centre. This is operated by a £1 coin, which is refundable
The only items you can take into the visits hall with you are:
Everything else must be placed in the lockers; this includes money in notes, cigarettes, wallets, keys, hats, scarves and sunglasses. Please note that items are left in the locker at your own risk.
You must make sure you have no gum or sweets in your mouth.
Going into the prison
When you go to the main gate for your visit, you will need to go to the second glass window where prison staff will ask to see your Open Visiting Order and your wrist band.
When you enter the waiting area, you will be subject to a pat down search. All visitors (including children) will be searched. Personal items and any property to be handed in will also be checked. Dogs trained to detect drugs may also be present before you enter the visits hall. You may also, on the instructions of the governor only, be required to undergo a strip search.
The property hatch is located in the waiting area. If you want to hand in property for a prisoner, you must do so before the visit. Guidance about bringing property.
Behaviour and conduct during visits
Whilst the prison appreciates that visiting someone that you care about can be a difficult and sensitive occasion, it asks that you adhere to the rules and regulations that are in place. Most of these are displayed on the walls and notice boards. If you are unsure about how they will affect your visit then please ask a member of staff to explain them to you.
Below is a list of some of the rules that apply when on your visit:
It is important that you understand the prison's rules at the onset of your visit, as any breach of these could mean that your visit is terminated.
The dress code
The prison has a dress code which applies to visitors:
Notes for parents
The prison asks parents or carers of young children to note the following:
After your visit
On completion of your visit, you may also be given a pat down search. Please note that the police will be called if it is suspected that you are carrying drugs or illicit items to pass to an inmate.
If you are on a low income or you receive benefits, you might be entitled to get help from the government with the cost of visiting your relative in prison. Help is provided by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). You can claim for two visits a month.
For more information about the APVU:
Are you worried about a prisoner in Pentonville? Have they told you they are being threatened, self harming or having thoughts of suicide?
If so, the Safer Custody Team are here to help and support them. Contact the team on 0207 023 7096 or email them at SafercustodyPentonville@hmps.gsi.gov.uk
The phone line’s answer machine is checked daily. When leaving a message, please speak clearly and leave as much detail as possible so that the prison can deal with your concerns.
It is not easy for anyone to give bad news and you may find it helpful to speak about it first. If you would like to speak to someone or are concerned about giving difficult or bad news to the person that you are visiting, please speak to the Visitors' Centre staff or the Visits Senior Officer in the prison.
Where there is a death in the family, the Chaplaincy will offer support to the prisoner. Call 020 7023 7000 extension 3098 / 3217, or 3282 for the Imam.
If the Visitors' Centre is closed, please contact the Orderly Officer or Duty Governor at the prison on 020 7023 7000.
There are a number of organisations that offer advice and support to prisoners and their families. To find out more, visit our links page.
Phoenix Futures provides a confidential and easily accessible service that supports families.
The service can offer you private meetings in the Visitors’ Centre, ongoing telephone, email and face to face support and onward referral to community support services. The service is available to anyone visiting a prisoner and for prisoners in custody. They can also offer you support up to three months after the prisoner’s release.
Please speak to John Taylor in the Visitor’s Centre for more information, or contact him by phone on 0207 609 2490 or by email at Pentonville.email@example.com.
There are many rules and regulations about how to do this.
You cannot hand in money in person, you have to send it in the post. You can mail postal orders and the money will be credited to the person's prison account. It is advisable not to send cash.
On the prisoner’s first visit you can hand in clothes before the visit. After that, the prisoner must make an application for clothes two days in advance of the visit (clothes can only be handed in before a visit).
The following items can be handed in on the prisoner’s first visit:
|5||Tops (including vests, long-sleeved & short-sleeved tops, shirts and polo shirts)||
No football tops
No offensive logos
No white shirts
|2 x||Trousers (including tracksuit bottoms and jeans)||
No combat trousers
No black trousers (except for court appearances)
|1 x||Coat or heavy jacket||No hoods|
|2 x||Jumpers (including zip-up tops & tracksuit tops)||
No black fleeces
|1 x||Pair shoes or trainers|
|1 x||Pair room slippers|
|7 x||Pairs socks|
|7 x||Pairs briefs|
|1 x||Large Towel or bathrobe|
|1 x||Facial towel|
|2 x||Pairs pyjamas||Must be matching sets|
|1 x||Dressing gown|
If the prisoner has applied for more clothes, you can bring:
|1 x||Tops (including vests, long/short sleeved tops, shirts or polo shirts)||
Maximum of 5 allowed at any one time.
|1 x||Pair shoes or trainers|
|7 x||Pairs socks|
|7 x||Pairs briefs|
Sending in items by post
|CDS and cassettes|
|Spectacles, spectacles case & contact lens||Sunglasses only allowed with doctor’s authorisation|
|Hearing aids & hearing aid batteries|
|24 x photos||
No photos with prisoners face in.
|Books||Sent directly from reputable supplier (ie: WH Smiths/Amazon)|
|Stationary (Stamps, envelopes, writing paper)|
|Cell hobby equipment||See facilities list for further details|
|Religious items||See facilities list for further details|
Clothing exchange for convicted prisoners
Convicted prisoners have 28 days from their arrival/conviction to obtain their clothing entitlement.
After the 28 day period, no clothes/shoes can be exchanged for 6 months. Following the 6 month period, clothing can be handed out for exchange and new clothing brought in once an application has been made.
The prison produces a very detailed Facilities List explaining what property is allowed in. This list changes fairly frequently. A laminated copy of this list is always available at the front desk in the Visitors' Centre and you can always call our centre staff on 020 7609 3860 with any questions.
Monday - Saturday: 8.15 - 4.30
Sunday: 12.30 - 4.30
Please note that the prison visiting times are slightly different to the Visitors' Centre opening hours. If you need to find out the visiting times, see below.
Monday - Saturday: 9.15 - 11.15 (last entry at 10.30am), 2pm - 4pm (last entry at 3pm)
Sunday: 2pm - 4pm (enhanced prisoners only)
There are no visits on Good Friday or Christmas Day.
Please note that all visits must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.