Visiting the prison


Booking a visit - domestic visits (Family & Friends)

Prisoners are responsible for booking their own visits; this is done by using an application on the Central Management System (CMS) – accessed via touchscreen computer terminals that are located on each unit in the establishment. Once a visit has been approved it is up the individual prisoner to inform his family and friends of the date and time of the visit.

The maximum time a visit can be booked is 14 days in advance and the minimum is 3 days in advance.

Prisoners can book up to 3 adult visitors per session and 3 children less than 18 Years of age. However, if the child is over 17 they will be classed as an adult.

It is the responsibility of the prisoner to book and inform friends and family of the time and date of visits.

Staff are not responsible for booking or informing family and friends of visits or cancellation of visits.

It is also the responsibility of the prisoner to inform visitors of correct identification requirements as well as other visit regulations, however visitors are encouraged to check the website for further details.

For sending correspondence / emails to your family or friend in prison, you can take advantage of the system. Please log on to and follow the instructions.


Domestic visitors’ identification

All visitors to closed prisons, both Adults and Children, whether visiting for social or official purposes must be required to prove their identity on Reception. (Children’s birth certificates are suitable to prove the name and date of birth).

Two separate forms of up-to-date identification will be required to gain entry to the prison, including one photographic identification and two proof of address:

  • Driving Licence - Acceptable on its own if photograph and the address matches the address provided by the prisoner on CMS.
  • Passport - Including foreign passports and time expired passports where the photograph is still recognisable.
  • Bus Pass (elderly only) - Must have been issued by the Local Authority. Photograph must match.
  • Student / Employers I.D. - Must clearly show the name of the visitor and educational establishment / employer. Photograph must match.
  • Citizen Card - A Citizen Card is an official UK ID / proof of age card recognised as such by the Home Office. Obtained online. A Standard application costs £15 and takes 21 days (card posted by Royal Mail 2nd class); an Urgent application costs £30 and takes 1-2 workingdays (subject to verification; card posted by Special Delivery guaranteed Next Day by 1pm). you can find out more at Must be official, the photograph must match.

Two Proof of address can include: (No more than 6 Months old)

  • Utility bill
  • Benefit book / Letter
  • Council tax/tax credit award
  • Household bill or statement with the address on

For other forms of ID that may be acceptable please ensure you contact the prison Visits Booking line for advice.

If a visitor is unable to produce ID as above, staff may accept combinations of two or more of the following below, but must also include two proof of addresses:

  • ‘Birth/marriage certificate
  • ‘Rail or bus pass with photo
  • ‘Cheque book or credit/debit card (counts as one, do not accept as two)
  • ‘Employer’s pass or ID or student ID card not acceptable under paragraph 2
  • ‘Young person’s ‘proof of age’ card
  • ‘Trade Union or National Students’ union membership card
  • ‘Library card, if it has a signature that can be compared with the visitor’s signature
  • ‘Rent book
  • ‘Foreign identity or resident’s card (other than EC ID cards acceptable in their own right)
  • ‘Expired documents from the above lists that appear satisfactory in other ways
  • ‘ID Card from Prison Visitors Organisations

You may be refused entry if you do not have sufficient ID. This will be decided by the Visits Manager on duty. The Director has the discretion to accept any form of identification that clearly identifies the visitor in a satisfactory way.

Having had ID checked all visitors will have their photograph taken, fingerprints and hand stamped with UV ink.

All adults and children over 10 years of age will have their finger-prints taken.


Booking a visit - legal/officials only

Our dedicated booking line is staffed: Monday to Friday between 0830-1630 hrs.

Official visitors can book by phone or via email.

To book by phone call: +44(0) 151 522 2196 / +44(0) 151 522 2047

For non-confidential correspondence to your clients, you can take advantage of the system. Please log on to and follow the instructions.


Legal visitors’ identification

The forms of identification set out below are acceptable. If the visitor does not possess such identification then the forms of identification for social visitors are also acceptable. If in doubt, Visits staff may telephone the visitor’s employer (e.g. solicitors office, barrister’s chambers, probation department) to check the visitor is bona fide. Get the telephone number from the phone book or direct enquiries, not from the visitor:

  • Members of either House of Parliament: Houses of Parliament ID card.
  • Legal Advisers: identity card issued by firm/ chambers, or introductory letter on headed letter paper of firm/chambers.
  • Police, Immigration and Customs Officers: warrant card.
  • Probation Officers: probation department ID card.
  • Staff from other prisons, HQ or Home Office Staff: prison service security pass or home office pass.
  • Consular Officials: consular ID card.
  • Other public officials: departmental or local authority pass or ID card (but only if it shows the name of the visitor and the name of the department or local authority).
  • Social workers: identification cards.
  • Researchers: Security Photo pass or official letter (visits must be pre-arranged) and
  • NHS: photographic identification badge/card. Independent sector healthcare photographic identification badge/card.


Visitors Centre

Safe Ground is the organisation responsible for the day to day running of the Visitors Centre at HMP Altcourse where our team is working hard to create a space and a service which is welcoming, comfortable, efficient, and conducive to meaningful engagement. In time, visitors also have the opportunity to access therapeutic spaces facilitated by a specialist member of the team based on site.  Alongside our day-to-day delivery of the Visitors Centre service and family support work, Safe Ground is delivering therapeutic group work programmes to men in custody. Together, our services represent the movement of the establishment towards a model of best practice in implementing ground-breaking person-centred interventions. For more information visit Safe Ground - Social Interest Group - Social Interest Group


Visiting times until 1st October

Visitors will need to arrive at the visits centre at least one hour prior to the visiting time in order to be processed in time for the visit to commence.

Monday to Friday

13:30-14:30 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 12.15pm)

15:15-16:15 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 14:15hrs)

18:15-19:15 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 17:00hrs)


09:15-10:15 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 08:15hrs)

11:00-12:00 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 10:00hrs)

14:00-16:00 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 13:00hrs)


09:15-10:15 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 08:15hrs)

11:00-12:00 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 10:00hrs)

13:45-14:45 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 12:45hrs)

15:30-16:30 (BOOKING - VISITORS TO BOOK IN 14:30hrs)

Visiting times from 2nd October

Official Visits Monday to Friday

AM Sessions

1st Session. Solicitor Arrive at search area 08:30. Visit Time 09:00 to 10:00

2nd Session. Solicitor Arrive at search area 10:00. Visit Time 10:30 to 11:30

PM Sessions

1st Session. Solicitor Arrive at search area 14:00. Visit Time 14:30 to 15:30

2nd Session. Solicitor Arrive at search area 15:30. Visit Time 16:00 to 17:00

NB Duration of each session is 1 Hour. A request for an extended 2 Hour session can be authorised subject to availability.

On arrival Legal Visitors do not need to go to the Visits Centre. Report directly to the main reception with your ID.


Social Visits Monday to Sunday

AM Sessions

1st Session. Visitor Arrives in VC 08:00. Visitor comes through search area 08:30. Visit Time 09:00 to 10:00.

2nd Session. Visitor Arrives in VC 09:30. Visitor comes through search area 10:00. Visit Time 10:30 to 11:30.

PM Sessions

1st Session. Visitor Arrives in VC 13:30. Visitor comes through search area 14:00. Visit Time 14:30 to 15:30.

2nd Session. Visitor Arrives in VC 15:00. Visitor comes through search area 15:30. Visit Time 16:00 to 17:00.


Purple Video Visits

Purple Visits will take place on a Saturday and Sunday only and the times are the same as the Social Visits Sessions and will be booked in the usual way.

All of the above Visiting Times will come into effect from the 2nd October 2023.



Visits Staff retain discretion to accept any other forms of identification, singly or in combination, that clearly identify the visitor in a satisfactory way.

The following list of items must not be brought into or taken out of the prison by staff or visitors:

  • Explosives and other dangerous items
  • Any item of contraband such as illegal or unauthorised substances (including steroids etc)
  • Any article intended for a prisoner
  • Weapons of any description including imitation weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Pen Knives
  • Toys
  • Alcohol (except Communion wine brought in by Chaplaincy staff)
  • Aerosols (e.g. spray deodorant / hairspray)
  • Cans (e.g. drinks can)
  • Wax
  • Metal Cutlery (beyond P4)
  • Metal nail files
  • Wire
  • Scissors
  • Civilian Clothing (if in uniform)
  • Spare uniform
  • Chewing Gum
  • Mobile Phones and associated parts (unless authorised under the Offender Management Act
  • Pagers (unless authorised)
  • Cameras (unless authorised under the Offender Management Act)
  • Video Cameras (unless authorised under the Offender Management Act
  • Any other sound or picture recording devices (unless authorised under the OMA)
  • DVD recorder / players
  • Non healthcare / prescribed drugs
  • Tobacco, lighters, matches or any other smoking paraphernalia
  • Large amounts of money
  • Unofficial tools e.g. personal screwdrivers
  • Tool repair kits




How we collect and use your data


In order to facilitate your visit to one of our prisons and to ensure that we deliver appropriate levels of security and safety and prevent crime, for identification purposes we shall collect your name, date of birth, address, a biometric template of your fingerprint and a photograph. A series of reference points from a finger print are collected, allowing a unique identification pattern. We do not collect or hold actual fingerprints.

Our prisons operate CCTV and staff may wear Body Worn Video Recording Equipment. We do not collect biometric readings or photographs of children under 16, however with the use of CCTV, images may routinely be captured.


We will only share your information with a third party where there is a legal obligation to do so.


You have legal rights in connection with personal information. Under certain circumstances, by law you have the right to:

  • Request access to your personal information (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal information we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
  • Request correction of the personal information that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate information we hold about you corrected.
  • Request erasure of your personal information. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal information where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal information where you have exercised your right to object to processing.
  • Object to processing of your personal information by us or on our behalf in certain situations.
  • Request the restriction of processing of your personal information. This enables you to ask us to suspend the processing of personal information about you, for example if you want us to establish its accuracy or the reason for processing it.


We keep personal data in accordance with our clients’ and Sodexo’s retention procedures. These retention periods depend on the nature of the information (e.g. we apply different retention periods to different type of information such as CCTV and your visitor record), and may be subject to change.

If you have any questions or concerns about how long we retain your personal data, please contact the Data Protection Officer using the details below.


To exercise your rights, you can contact us by writing to us at the following address: or email the Global Data Protection Office at the following email address: stating your surname, first name and the reason for your request. We will most likely ask you for additional information in order to identify you and to enable us to deal with your request

You also have the right to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office and file a complaint. (


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Ways to stay in touch... 

Leave a voice message using the Prison Voicemail Service
Send them an email using the email a prisoner service
Secure video calling is available at this prison. Family and friends need to download the purple visits app, create an account, register all visitors, and add the prisoner to their contact list. Read more about how it works
You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003.