Sussex Prisoners' Families
Sussex Prisoners' Families: 01273 499843
Prisoners’ Families Helpline: 0808 808 2003

Having a loved one in prison can be difficult, worrying and even frightening. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. This page guides you towards services that can help you through this difficult time. We have divided the page into problems commonly faced by families.

Where has my family member gone?

From the Sussex Courts:

Men are usually sent to HMP Lewes
Women are usually sent to HMP Bronzefield

 

To find out the whereabouts of a person under 18 contact the Youth Justice Board 0345 3636363

If you cannot locate your family member, please contact Find a prisoner – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

How to complain

Please see our guide on how to complain about how you and your family member can complain about a prison if you feel you haven’t been treated fairly, 

Worried about a prisoner?

If you are worried about a prisoner, call the safer custody hotline. There is a list of all the numbers here. If there is no reply, and you believe the prisoner to be in immediate danger, call the prison’s main number and ask to speak to the duty governor.

Contacting a Prisoner

Watch the video opposite or  click on the button below to find out how to contact someone when they are sent to prison. 

Contacting a Prisoner

How can I contact them?

You can’t phone them but a prisoner should be allowed to make one short phone call within 24 hours of arriving at prison. (Unless they are not allowed to for public protection reasons.) However, this depends on the prisoner knowing your number, as they will not be allowed their mobile phones.

During that phone call they should be able to give out their prisoner number and information about visits.

A ‘pin’ system is then set up with up to 20 personal and 5 legal numbers. This can take a while so do not worry if you don’t hear from your family member within the first week. This is normal.

Many prisons now have phones in their cells but if not, they will need to make calls from the landing at certain times of day.

Once you have their prisoner number, you can write as many letters as you like and send in photographs but these must not include pictures of the prisoner. You can also sign up to email a prisoner. Once the prisoner has their pin system set up they will be able to make calls during the day as long as they have enough phone credit. Prison voicemail allows you to leave the prisoner a message which they will be able to dial in and listen to and leave a reply.

 

HMP Lewes

Family Services at this prison are run by a charity called Pact. They will be able to deal with any specific questions about visiting the prison and they run a friendly visitors’ centre that you can visit before you go in to the prison.  If you have any questions for PACT please contact them here lewes@prisonadvice.org.uk

Visiting:
Visitors can book visits online. All the details about visiting the prison are here
If you have any questions about visiting

Contact details:
HMP Lewes, 1 Brighton Road BN7 1EA 01273 581000
For a list of contacts within the prison click here 

Sending in property
For details of how to send property into HMP Lewes, click here

For a list of  clothes you are allowed to send/ bring into HMP Lewes click here

 

 

 

What happens when someone goes to prison?

Please note – these are general guidelines as some things can vary from prison to prison. There are specific guides for HMP Lewes and Bronzefield on this page

What happens when someone first goes to prison?

Prisoners go through the ‘reception’ process to ensure they have everything they need.

First of all, property will be logged, and prisoners will be allowed to keep some items. Anything they can’t keep should be stored and returned to them on release.

They will also be issued a prison number and should be allowed a shower. 

What if they have health problems?
They will be interviewed by healthcare who will find out their physical and mental health needs and find out what medication they need. Healthcare will not normally discuss these issues with you as they are confidential but should be willing to receive information from you that might be helpful to the prisoner. Please contact us for help in doing this.

When will I hear from them?
They should also be allowed a short phone call within the first 24 hours in which they should give you details of how to visit and their prisoner number. Then there may be a delay in hearing from them as their phone PIN system is set up.  As soon as you get their prison number you can write to them and also sign up for ‘email a prisoner’ which allows you to send and (in some prisons) receive emails.

How will they know how the prison works?
Over the next few days, they will receive information and advice from officers and specially trained prisoners who will tell them how the prison systems work such as how to book visits or how to sign up for education and work.

Where can I find out more?
Call one of our friendly outreach team who can talk this through with you on 01273 499843

 

 

Visiting, Sending in Clothes and Money

Y Please note – these are general guidelines as some things can vary from prison to prison. There are specific guides for HMP Lewes and Bronzefield on this page

Can I visit?
Yes most prisoners are allowed around visits a month as well as video visits (see below). Visiting procedures will vary from prison to prison so please contact us on 01273 499843 or look at the government website https://www.gov.uk/prison-visits  See elsewhere on this website for information regarding Lewes. 

Can I have video visits?
Yes- there is a new way of doing this called ‘Video Visits‘.  This is  replacing ‘Purple Visits’  but not all prisons have moved over to the new system (all pre-booked purple visit calls will be honoured)
1 – Download the app from Apple or Google Pay.

2 – Create your account.

3 – Add any additional participants.

4 – Add your contact (who you wish to have the call with).

5 – Once verified, you can book a video call  .(the process will vary slightly from prison to prison) 

Click here for more information

Can I send money in?
You can transfer by Visa, Maestro or Mastercard debit cards, bank transfer, mobile app or telephone banking. For detailed instructions, click here https://www.gov.uk/send-prisoner-money 

Can I bring in clothes for the prisoner?
You cannot usually bring in clothes and property in to the prison. You can post in some items but the prisoner needs to put in ‘an app’ in the first instance detailing exactly what is being sent in. This must be completed and accepted before you send in any items.

If you need any further help, please contact one of our friendly outreach
workers on 01273 499843

 

HMP Bronzefield

 

How can I contact the prisoner? 
You can’t phone, but a prisoner should be allowed to make one short phone call within 24 hours of arriving at prison. (Unless they are not allowed to for public protection reasons.) However, this depends on the prisoner knowing your number, as they will not be allowed their mobile phones. 

During that phone call they should be able to give out their prisoner number, information about visits, and how to send in money. 

A ‘pin’ system is then set up with their personal and legal phone numbers. This can take a while so do not worry if you do not hear from your family member within the first week. This is normal. 

I am worried about a prisoner. What should I do?
If you have immediate concerns about the mental health of a prisoner, you should call the Family Connected voicemail on 01784 425794. This line is monitored seven days a week 8am to 5pm.  

Visiting Times

All details about visiting the prison are here.

Can I have video visits?
Yes- there is a new way of doing this called ‘Video Visits‘.  This is  replacing ‘Purple Visits’ (all pre-booked purple visit calls will be honoured)

1 – Download the app from Apple or Google Pay.

2 – Create your account.

3 – Add any additional participants.

4 – Add your contact (who you wish to have the call with).

5 – Once verified, you can book a video call  .(the process will vary slightly from prison to prison) 
Click here for more information

 

Can I send money in?

You cannot post money to a prisoner unless you have special permission from the governor. Instead you can transfer by Visa, Maestro or Mastercard debit cards, bank transfer, mobile app or telephone banking. For detailed instructions, click here https://www.gov.uk/send-prisoner-money 

Can I bring in clothes for the prisoner?

For all details on sending/ bringing in items click here

How do I stay in contact?

You can write as many letters as you like and send in photographs but these must not include pictures of the prisoner. You can also sign up to email a prisoner https://www.emailaprisoner.com/ . Once the prisoner has their pin system set up they will be able to make calls between the hours of 6am and midnight as long as they have enough phone credit. Prison voicemail allows you to leave the prisoner a message https://prisonvoicemail.com/ which they will be able to dial in and listen to and leave a reply. 

How can I find out more?

For more information about Bronzefield contact:

http://www.hmpbronzefield.co.uk/home/visiting-the-prison.html