The Visitors' Centre at Belmarsh Prison is 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.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE VISITOR'S CENTRE
6 Belmarsh Road, London, SE28 0HE
020 8317 3888
HOW TO GET THERE
- Bus: From Woolwich Arsenal Station catch the 244/380 bus to the prison. The bus stops are situated directly outside the exit from the railway station on the opposite side of the road.
- Train: The nearest stations are Woolwich Arsenal and Plumstead. Catch a bus from Woolwich Arsenal station to the prison, or walk from Plumstead station (contact the visitor centre for details).
- Approach from M25 Dartford Bridge/Tunnel:
- Heading South - over Bridge: Take first slip road immediately after tolls, (NB head for 4 left hand tolls when coming over the bridge). Signposted A206. First exit at roundabout and come over the motorway. Then to * (below):
- Heading North - towards tunnel: Take last exit (Junction 1) before tunnel signposted A206 Crayford/Erith. Then to * (below):
- *: Roundabout over M25 - signposted A206 Crayford/ Erith. University Way.
- Roundabout end of University Way/ dual carriageway signposted A206 Crayford / Erith.
- Into Bexley / single carriageway / roundabout.
- 4th exit signposted Erith A206 Crayford/Erith
Roundabout end dual carriageway
- 2nd exit signposed Woolwich/ Thamesmead A206
- Roundabout 2nd exit signposted A2016 Thamesmead, Plumstead, Woolwich
- Series of roundabouts signposted A2016 Thamesmead, Plumstead, Woolwich
- Dual carriageway towards Thamesmead, roundabout signposted Western Way
- Signpost to Belmarsh and Courts - left slip road at traffic lights.
- Approach from Woolwich: Proceed along Plumstead Road, turn left into Pettman Crescent (just before Plumstead Bus Garage) then take the second left at the traffic lights into Western Way. Belmarsh is situated approximately half a mile down on the right-hand side. Follow signs for HMP Belmarsh and Courts.
- Approach from Plumstead: Proceed along Plumstead High Street, turn right into Pettman Crescent (just after Plumstead Bus Garage) then take the second left at the traffic lights into Western Way. Belmarsh is situated approximately half a mile down on the right-hand side. Follow signs for HMP Belmarsh and Courts.
- There is a visitors' car park.
- When you have entered the main prison gate – turn left and you will find the visitor’s centre.
FACILITIES ON OFFER AT THE VISITORS' CENTRE
- information and advice about prison routines
- visiting procedure
- The Assisted Prison Visits Scheme
- other organisations that offer help
- a coffee bar selling a variety of drinks, snacks, soup and sandwiches (please note, we are often unable to give change.)
- toys for children to play with
- toilets and baby changing facilities
- the support of Spurgeons staff
Is there disabled access?
Yes. The entrance to the visitors' centre is at ground level; there are automatic doors and no steps. There is also a disabled toilet available.
INFORMATION FOR VISITORS TO HMP BELMARSH
How to book a visit
Booking information: Pre book by telephone at least 48 hours in advance on 020 8331 4768 OR 020 8331 4773. The line is open as follows:
Tuesday - Thursday: 9am – 4pm
Friday: 9am – 12pm
Closed on weekends
Due to staff shortages, the phone lines may not be manned at all times during the stated times. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Booking a visit is now easier at Belmarsh. From 7th September 2015, you can now request social visits online using your smartphone, tablet or computer. It’s simple, quick and available 24/7.
Go onto www.gov.uk/prison-visits to complete the form for requesting a visit. If not completed in full, your email will be rejected.
Social visits can also be booked by e-mail to: BelmarshV@hmps.gsi.gov.uk
The email must include the prisoners name and date of birth in the "Subject" line, the day you want to visit (with two alternative dates), full name, full address, date of birth and relation to the prisoner for every visitor that wishes to visit.
When booking by email you must book a minimum of 48 hours in advance and up to two weeks ahead. Incomplete applications will not be booked.
There is a maximum of 3 visitors aged 10 years and over and 3 under 10 years.
Please note: You cannot visit a prisoner on a day that they attend court.
Visits to Category A prisoners
For security reasons, people wishing to visit a Category A prisoner must be security cleared before any visits can take place. For full information about security clearance, please contact the prison's security department via the Belmarsh Switchboard 020 8331 4400.
How many visits is the prisoner allowed?
Social visits will now be booked for a two hour period, whereby 2 Visiting Orders will be used (one per hour). Should you wish to have one hour, you will be allocated the first hour of each session (09:00 - 10:00 or 14:15 - 16:15) and one Visiting Order will be used. Examples of this are listed below.
2 x Visiting Orders
1 x Visiting Order and Privileged Visiting Order
- remand prisoners can have three visits per week. The names, addresses, dates of birth and relationships to the offender of those visiting must be supplied at the time of booking. The prison week starts on Sunday and finishes on Saturday
- convicted prisoners can have two Visiting Orders per month. Visitors to convicted prisoners must wait until they have received the Visiting Order before booking a visit. Visiting Orders are sent out to you by the prisoner (except for the 'reception visit' - see below)
The first visit
If it is the first time a prisoner has come into prison, they are entitled to a 'reception visit' within the first week of entering the prison. Like all other visits, you must arrange this through the booking clerks by ringing the Booking Line on 0208 331 4768. If you are visiting a convicted prisoner, you will need a Visiting Order, but this will be available for you to pick up when you arrive.
Before you visit
Give yourself plenty of time to get to HMP Belmarsh; please aim to arrive at least 45 minutes before the visit time. You must book in no later than the start of the visits session, or you will not be allowed entry to the prison.
You will need to bring identification with you - please see the list of appropriate ID below. You will also need to bring a £1 to use in the locker where your belongings will be kept while you are on the visit. (The £1 is refunded.) No change is provided by the Visitor Centre.
You may be refused entry to the prison if you wear clothes or shoes to the visit which breach security concerns. As examples only, the following are not considered suitable:-
UNAUTHORISED DRESS CODE FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN
- No see through, revealing clothing or crop tops which reveal the stomach.
- Skirts and dresses and shorts must be no higher than just above the knee.
- Women must ensure their top garment covers their cleavage.
- No vests to be worn on their own that reveal underwear.
- No clothing bearing slogans that are deemed racist, insulting or derogatory.
- No ripped or damaged clothing.
- No uniforms (except children in school uniform and police officers on a legal visit).
- No watches.
- Jewellery is best kept to a minimum (Earrings to be studs/small hoops only - use a ten pence piece as a guide for earrings).
- No chains that resemble key chains.
- No ponchos.
- All clothing to be worn as intended to be worn.
- No football slogan clothing.
- No baseball caps.
- No sunglasses.
- No fluorescent tops.
- Only one pair of trousers to be worn at any one time.
- No diaries.
AUTHORISED DRESS CODE FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN
- Hats, scarf’s and gloves (Must be removed when in hall) unless religious headwear.
- Most footwear allowed (Except steel toe cap footwear, football boots and similar footwear. Boots must be no higher than below the knee. No Heelies. Stilettos are allowed).
- Belts can be worn but can be no bigger than an Officer’s belt buckle. Belts should be of plain design.
- Designer clothing that is ripped. (Must be factory ripped) staff have the discretion to refuse entry if they think it is not factory ripped or may be deemed inappropriate.
- Hairdressings i.e. hair clips, slides, butterfly clips.
- Babies or small children can bring in a small comfort blanket or small comfort toy.
What to bring as ID
No-one under the age of 18 can visit alone unless visiting a parent by special arrangement.
All visitors over 18 years old must provide 2 forms of identification (must be photographic ID and proof of address) or their visit will be refused.
Visitors over 16 must provide 1 form of photographic ID from the list below. (visitors under 16 do not require ID).
Biometrics: Since March 2012, the prison has used a biometric system where visitors’ finger prints and facial photos will be taken on the first visit. These are then used for proof of ID for any later visits, however please always bring your photo ID and proof of address with you.
1 of the following:
- Current British passport
- British Driving License (with current address)
- 1 proof of address (i.e.: bank statement/utility bill, dated within the last 3 months)
- OR -
1 of the following:
- Passports: foreign passports, time-expired passports with a recognisable photo, no more than 1 year out of date
- Non UK Photo driving license, no more than 1 year out of date
- EC identify card/Home Office card ID/letter of photo ID from immigration.
- Discount Oystercard
- Freedom Pass
- Employers card/ Student Card (with name & photo)
- Medical Card
- Tenancy Agreement/Rent book ( must be 3-6 Months in date)
- 1 proof of address i.e bank statement/utility bill, dated within 3-6 months
Bringing the children?
Inside the visits hall is a children's play area, which provides toys, games and playworkers for the children.
Please note, all children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times whilst in the Visitor’s Centre.
Booking in for a visit
To visit a prisoner at HMP Belmarsh you must have:
- a pre-booked appointment
- two forms of ID
- a Visiting Order (for convicted prisoners only)
At the enrolment centre, the above items will be checked to confirm your visit.
You will then have to complete biometrics and have an ultra-violet stamp on your hand to validate your entry to the visits hall.
What is biometrics?
Biometric is a system that records a 3-D image of your finger and stores it on a computer against an image of your face for recognition purposes. It is checked as you go in and out of the visit. All visitors and Category ‘A’ visitors must complete this process. Also all visitors will have a non-harmful ultra-violet stamp upon their hand, again for recognition purposes.
What can I take into the visits hall?
Once you have enrolled, almost all your personal possessions must be left in a locker in the visitors' centre. A £1 coin is needed for the locker.
However, you are allowed to take some items into the visits hall with you:
- A valid Visiting Order
- The Visitors pass issued to you when you booked in
- £25 cash per Adult up to £45 per VO (Change is limited so if possible do not bring large notes)
- A babies bottle, you will be required to taste the contents of the bottle in front of staff who will then bag and tag it along with two nappies, a dummy and a handful of wipes
- Your Locker key
- Any essential medication please inform staff that you have this.
IN THE CASE OF LEGAL/OFFICIAL VISITORS
- Paperwork relating to the case/ prisoner being visited
- Two pens
- Laptop computer and/or Dictaphone (with written authorisation only)
- Up to £15 cash (Change is limited so if possible do not bring large notes)
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WILL NOT BE AUTHORISED INTO THE PRISON
- Metal bull dog clips
- Spiral binders and other Files/folders containing metal (Ring binders are permitted but the removable clip that holds papers in place is not)
- Unauthorised electrical items
- Please try to only bring in paperwork relating to the case and the prisoner you are visiting. Maps should be declared to searching staff before the search takes place
- Mobile telephones
Please remember to empty pockets as all other items must be left in a locker in the visitors centre.
Will I be searched?
All visitors to HMP Belmarsh will be searched on their way to the visits hall, on entry, this will include removing shoes, belts, jewellery and outer garments, coats and jackets. These garments will then be placed in a tray and passed through an x-ray machine. A prison officer will carry out a rub down and metal detection search.
Belmarsh visits are covered by CCTV. Should staff at any time suspect you of intending to pass or receive an unauthorised item you may be required to undergo further searching.
Inside the visits hall
- for security reasons, the room will be patrolled by prison officers and monitored by CCTV cameras
- for safety reasons, children must stay with the person who brought them, or in the playroom, and not run around the visits hall
- any complaints should be raised with the senior officer in charge of the visits hall
- smoking is not allowed
- once you enter the visits hall you will be allocated a table where you will have your visit
- the prisoner will be brought to the visits hall at the visit starting time, even if you are late. He will leave when the session ends
- you are allowed to purchase refreshments from the canteen, but please remember that the prisoner can take nothing from the visits hall and are not permitted to share any items purchased with any other person. If you share any items they will be confiscated.
- If staff feel you are not complying with the rules and regulations you will be warned once and any repeat will result in termination of the visit, closed visit being imposed or even the banning of the visitor's involved
Do you need help with travel costs?
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:
- ask at the visitors' centre
- call the APVU on 03000 362 100
Freepost BM2257, PO Box 2152, Birmingham, B15 1BR
Phone: 03000 362 100 Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays) 09:00 - 17:00
Textphone: 0845 304 0800 (times as above)
Fax: 0121 626 3474 (24 hrs)
PROPERTY FOR PRISONERS
As the rules change on a regular basis, please contact a Family Support Worker for information on 020 8317 3888.
MONEY FOR PRISONERS
Sending in Money
Money must be sent in by postal order, available from the Post Office.
- Make the postal order payable to HM Prison Service.
- Put the prisoners name & number, and senders name & address on the back.
- Post it to the prisoner, with their name & number and prison address on the envelope:
There is no limit to the amount of money that can be sent to a prisoner, but there is a limit to the amount he can spend each week. Please see table below:
I’M WORRIED ABOUT THE PRISONER I AM VISITING, WHO DO I TALK TO?
In the first instance please speak to a member of Visitor Centre staff or you can call
- the Safer Custody Team – 020 8331 4890
- Chaplains – 020 8331 4524
- Orderly Office – 020 8331 4400