Some practical hints and tips on prison visiting and some rules and regulations as well:

Information on how to travel to each prison, information on individual prisons and other useful facts are to be found in Section 5 – CSD. For arranging a visit, you have to call the Welfare Officer in advance. Make sure that the meeting room and the prisoner will be available for your visit and the Welfare Officer is informed concerning your visit. Details refer to in Section 5.

How to apply to the PFA as well as how to apply for travelling and other expenses etc. are to be found in section 7. Below are some suggestions, which visitors have learnt (often through making mistakes) and some rules which MUST be obeyed.

Get Prepare Before The Visit

Keep a record – many prison visitors use a filo-fax. You can note down the prisoners name, number, prison, date of release, birthday and many other useful facts. I have a page for each person I visit which I keep alphabetically. I also have a page for each prison. This has useful telephone numbers on it such as the Welfare Officer’s and the Superintendent's, together of course with their names. On the page for the prison, I list those I visit at that institution together with their numbers to simplify finding the numbers each time I go. If this all sounds somewhat daunting please do not worry. If you only visit one prisoner and so have no need of a filo-fax that is fine. What you do for that one prisoner could change the entire course of their life. Much better that you visit one person than none and you may have a lot of pressing commitments.

Please do not forget your pass because if you do not have it with you it is extremely unlikely that you will be allowed in.

You need to hand in a list of those prisoners you wish to see with their numbers at the main gate, so it is useful to have it with you.

If you take things to the prisoners they need to be exactly as specified by that particular prison (lists in section 5). If it is the wrong make, size or colour (for example shampoo) it will not be accepted. The prisoners can buy toiletries, cigarettes etc from their earnings and so the most valuable items to bring for them are books and magazines because they cannot buy these. Types of books permitted are found in Section 5.

A Rule That Must Be Kept At All Costs: “Nothing In – Nothing Out.”

Prison is a controlled environment. Everything that is received by the prisoner and given out by the prisoner is meant to be controlled. Please therefore do not receive anything either, without checking that it is alright with the staff. Prisoners may ask you to post a letter or something – please politely explain that it is against the rules (they will understand that), that they themselves might suffer and the prison visitors’ pass might be jeopardised. Having been refused the first time, it is extremely unlikely that they will try it again. They will know where they stand and that you cannot be ‘used’ in that particular way.

Under no circumstances should you ever give the prisoner anything directly, not even a slip of paper with your name on it. Everything must be given to them through the staff. In most prisons, the prisoners are searched after the visit and so if anything were found you would both be in trouble.