As a new prisoner you are entitled to a visit as soon as you are sent to prison. In most prisons it is the job of the visitor to arrange this, and all prison have designated phone numbers through which this initial visit is set up. Prison set their own visiting times, and will usually be 2 or 3 weekday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, look at the pages on your establishment to see when they are.
After this initial visit you will be entitled to 2 per month (called VOs), which rises by an additional 2 if you have enhanced status. (called PVOs). If you do not use all the visits in the month the VOs are carried over to the next month but the PVOs are lost. Some prisons give extra visits, refer to the individual prison pages for details
Visits are for a set time, usually 1 hour, but increase in length as you move up from Standard to Enhanced status. The visits take place in the visits hall of the prison, some of these halls are well decorated with provision of children’s play area, visitors café etc, and other are far more austere and unwelcoming. Your visitor, after booking the visit, will be given a time to attend the prison. It is worth getting to the prison in good time as it can be a lengthy process for a visitor to be processed through the system. You, as the prisoner, will be given a small paper slip which will usually be posted under your cell door, telling you when the visit is.
At the correct time you will be escorted, along with any other prisoners who have visits to the visitor’s area. ere you will be searched and then placed in a holding area unto summoned into the actual visit hall. It is likely that you will be given a brightly colour bib to wear as identification. When in the hall you will be given a chair/space number where you are expected to sit during the period of the visit. Your visitor will then be let into the hall and will join you on the other side of the table. You can give them a welcoming kiss but if there is too much physical contact the visit will be ended immediately and there could be restrictions on future visits. The visitor can buy you tea/coffee for the catering stand within reception but you can’t leave your seat and go with them to the counter.
All during the visit you will be watched by a number of prison officers. This is not intrusive, and they can’t overhear your conversation, but they are watching for suspicions behaviour or signs of undue tension. If the officers are unhappy about your, or your visitors behaviour they can end the visit at any time.
At the end of the visit your visitor will leave and you will then be subjected to another search, which could be a full strip search or may just be an airport style pat down, and you will be escorted back to you wing.
Your visitor’s are also subjected to searches both coming and going out of the visits hall. Many prison’s have drug dogs and these may be used and depending upon the circumstances your visitor may be given a full search. In any event the visitor will have to be able to prove their identity before the visit (passport, driving licence etc), and they are not allowed to take electronic equipment or mobile phones into the prison. They can bring in clothes and other items for you to be handed to you, but these rules differ from prison to prison.
Visits for your legal team are handled slightly differently. You will be informed of the visits in the same way but they are actually held in smaller private rooms. You are not subjected to the same level of scrutiny as when in family visits but you are monitored. There is no practical limit on the number of legal visits you have.