Worried?

If you are worried about someone in prison, either because you are getting unwanted contact from them or because you are concerned for a prisoner’s physical or mental health placing them at risk of imminent serious harm, then this page will tell you what to do – it will also provide you with a route of access (anonymously if necessary) to senior managers from outside a certain prison if you have concerns about a member of prison staff who may be bullying a prisoner or who you believe is engaged in inappropriate relationships or corrupt activities.

Concerns about a prisoner of a Critical nature

For Emergencies:

If you think someone is at risk of immediate serious harm, or their life is in danger:

You should ring the prison and ask to be put through to the orderly officer or Duty Governor at the prison.

You will need to explain that your call is an emergency, and you are worried that a prisoner is at risk of immediate serious harm.

For Urgent concerns:

If you have a concern about the well-being of a prisoner that can wait up to a week and is not life threatening:

You should ring the prison and ask to speak to the Safer Custody Team

If you are taken to an answer phone you will need to leave a message explaining your concern, along with your name and ask for the team to return your call if you would like them to, leaving your contact details.

Be aware there are officially accepted examples where, in some prisons, answer machine messages have taken WEEKS to be listened to.



 

Unwanted Contact from a Prisoner
Contact categoryPhone numberAdditional information
Unwanted Prisoner Contact0300 060 6699

If a prisoner is contacting you and you want them to stop, you can use the Unwanted Prisoner Contact Service.

You can complete the Stop prisoner contact online form, email unwantedprisonercontact@justice.gov.uk or contact by phone.

 



 

Concerns about a Staff Member
Contact categoryPhone numberAdditional information
Staff Integrity Hotline0800 917 6877
(24 hours answering machine)
This number can be called anonymously. If you are concerned about a prisoner being bullied by a member of staff, you can use this number. As this line is managed separately from the prison, you can call this number anonymously.

 



 

Secure video calls with prisoners

You can book and take part in a secure video call with a family member or friend in prisons in England and Wales.

Video calls last 30 minutes and can have up to 4 people on the call talking to a prisoner. All callers must be on the prisoner’s visitor list and the ‘main caller’ must be over 18. People under 18 can be on the video call, as long as they are on the prisoner’s visitor list.

Every adult prisoner and young person in custody is offered one free 30-minute video call per month. The governor may allow additional calls for wellbeing reasons and in exceptional circumstances.

Video call security

You’ll need to follow the usual prison rules around what to wear and how to behave. Remember that all calls are recorded, and prison staff may view or listen to calls as they are happening. The call can be paused or ended if prison rules are not followed.

What you’ll need to make a video call

  • Mobile phone or tablet – this service is not available using a computer
  • An account with a secure video calling application
  • Passport, driving license or another government-issued photo ID
  • Proof of address (if your ID does not include this)
  • The prisoner’s name, number and date of birth
  • Names, dates of birth and addresses for everyone who would like to be on the video call

How to get set up for a video call

You need to use one of 2 apps to have a video call with someone in prison.

Step 1: Download the Prison Video app and install it on your phone or tablet from the Prison Video website

Step 2: Create an account in the app and add everyone who will be on the call

To create an account you will need to be over 18 years old and have a picture of your driving license, passport or other government-issued photo ID.

It can take up to 24 hours for your account to be verified.

Once verified, set up the call: You must include the names and dates of birth of everyone who will be on the video call. You will also need to upload ID for people over 18.

Finally, add the name of the person you want to want to have the video call with as a ‘contact’.

Step 3: Make a video call request

The exact process of booking a call will depend on the prison.

For some prisons, you will be able to select a possible date and time in the next 7 days in the app. In other prisons, staff will book a date and time following a request from the prisoner.

Either way, you’ll receive a confirmation email when your video call has been scheduled.

Step 4: Get set up for the video call

You need a reliable internet connection. Wi-Fi is recommended, but you can also use 3G or 4G mobile data.

You don’t need headphones for the video call, but it may help with the sound quality.

Step 5: Have the video call

You should open your app ahead of the scheduled video call time and be ready for the call to start. Call times are fixed and cannot be extended.

Calls will be paused if anyone:

  • who is not booked on the call appears on the camera
  • behaves in a way that would not be appropriate for a social prison visit
  • tries to record the call or take a screenshot

If a call is paused, you will need to go through a security check before it can start again.

Tips for a successful video call

Keep the camera still and switch off notifications

Video calls may be interrupted by notifications and alerts, for example when you get a new email or text message. Make sure they are switched off before the call starts.

Try to keep your phone or tablet as still as possible. It may be best to rest it against something.

Good lighting and a plain background

You must have the call in a private place rather than a cafe or public space. Make sure the room is well-lit. Uneven lighting, for example sunlight, can disrupt the way the system recognises faces.

It is best to sit in front of a plain wall. Pictures or patterns in the background may affect the camera being able to stay focused on your face.

Clear sight of everyone on the call

Make sure that your whole face – and the faces of any additional people – can be seen clearly.

If there are young children on the call, make sure they either look directly at the camera or else stay out of the picture.

The call may be paused if only part of a face or the back of a head can be seen.

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