Frequently asked questions

Visiting prison can be confusing and you might feel a bit embarrassed and like everyone else knows what to do. If you still have worries or queries after looking through these questions – or you find it easier to speak to someone directly, please get in touch and we can phone, email or arrange to see you at the prison for a support chat.


There are two ways to find out which prison someone is in:

  1. Write a letter. Address it to the person in a sealed envelope, including your address and contact number if you want them to be able to contact you. Place this envelope in another envelope with a letter for SPS (Scottish Prison Service) letting them know that you are trying to locate which prison the person is in – include their full name and date of birth if you can. Send the letter to: Scottish Prison Service HQ, Communications Branch, Room G20, Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh WH1 9HW. SPS HQ will then look up their systems and if they find the person will send them your letter.
  2. Email SPS HG General Enquiries gaolinfo@sps.pnn.gov.uk – include the same information as listed above

If you think the person could be in a prison in England or Wales – the Prisoner Location Service in England and Wales can take up to 6 weeks and can be quicker if you involve the person’s solicitor https://www.gov.uk/find-prisoner . You can also contact the Offenders’ Families Helpline 0808 808 2003.

If you think the person could be in a prison in Northern Ireland, contact NIACRO on 028 9032 0157

Load More

If someone in your household goes to prison and you are claiming benefits, you will usually be moved on to the Universal Credit system. CPAG in Scotland have a factsheet on Prisoners and Universal Credit.

You can get more information from the Croft, either by emailing help@barlinnievisitorscentre.org or booking a support chat with Croft staff either on the phone or at the prison.

Load More

Contacting someone in prison

If you want someone in prison to be able to contact you – make sure that they have a note of your phone number and current address as these are needed for prison checks to be carried out. You should be able to receive calls from them once the checks are cleared – there isn’t currently a system for you to contact the person by phone. If you are worried about someone in prison, you can contact the Family Contact Team 0141 770 2037 (answer machine) during office hours or if you have an urgent concern, contact Prison Social Work via the switchboard 0141 770 2000 and ask for the duty social worker.

You can contact someone in HMP Barlinnie by writing them a letter or an email. You can include photos or attachments to both letters and emails but cannot include anything with a photo of the prisoner. You also cannot include a reply envelope – the prisoner needs to supply this himself.

To email, you need to know the person’s Prisoner Number and which prison they are in. You can register at  www.emailaprisoner.com and have to put at least £5 on to your account. You can then email the person for 40p and, if you indicate that you’re happy to pay for it, the person can reply for 25p. Emails are printed and given to the person with the regular post, he can then hand write a reply and it will be typed up and emailed to you.

To write a letter, use their Name, Prisoner Number and Location, followed by the postal address:

e.g.    123456 S Smith
           1/15 B Hall
           H M Prison Barlinnie
           81 Lee Avenue
           G33 2QX

If you don’t know the person’s Prisoner Number or Cell Number, you may want to try writing a letter anyway. The letter can take longer to get to them, but should get there as long as there is no-one else in the prison with the same name.

e.g.    123456 S Smith
           1/15 E Hall
           H M Prison Barlinnie
           Lee Avenue
           G33 2QX

You can also contact someone through the Email A Prisoner scheme.

You can also receive calls from someone in prison, as long as your phone number has been approved by the prison.

Load More

Travelling to prison

Public Transport

By Bus

First Bus number 38 / 38A / 38C stop near the prison (38B & 38E do not go to the prison). There are stops at both Queen Street and Central Stations in Glasgow City Centre and you can pay with the First Group mobile app, contactless card or with the exact fare. You can check the timetable on the First Group website.

For those unfamiliar with the exact location of the prison please exit the bus at Riddrie library, cross Cumbernauld Road at the pedestrian crossing and walk up Lee Avenue, between the shops and the school.

By Train

Please note there are no direct train services to Barlinnie.  The nearest stations are at Alexandra Parade and Carntyne.  You can phone National Rail Enquiries 03457 48 49 50 and plan your journey on their website here.


Car (Postcode – G33 2QX)

From the east
When travelling east on the M8 take exit at junction 12 Stepps and Riddrie. At the traffic lights turn right onto Cumbernauld Road (A80).  After the library take the 1st left onto Teith Street, left onto Smithycroft Road, then first right onto Lee Avenue where the prison is located. 

From the west
When travelling west on the M8 exit at Junction 12, Stepps and turn left onto Cumbernauld Road (A80).  After the library take the 1st left onto Teith Street, left onto Smithycroft Road, then first right onto Lee Avenue where the prison is located.


Parking: Visitors can use the car park on the left as they come up the driveway to the prison.  If there are no spaces in this car park then visitors will need to park on Smithycroft Road. The car park on the right is a restricted car park but the exception to this is at the weekend or in the evenings. Any person parked illegally will be asked to move their car.  There are a limited number of disabled parking spaces available.  Disabled badges must be displayed. Visitors must not use the disabled parking bays unless they are displaying a current disabled parking permit/badge. 

Load More

Yes, if you claim certain benefits and are a close relative or the only person who visits someone, you can claim for two visits per month.

Close relative:

  • Husband, wife or civil partner
  • Partner (living as a couple before the person went in to prison)
  • Parent or grand-parent (includes step-parent)
  • Son or daughter
  • Brother or sister (includes half-sibling or step-siblings)
  • Next of kin
  • Sole visitor (only visitor in the 4 weeks before a visit is claimed)

Eligible benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance (income related)
  • Universal Credit*
  • Working Tax Credits (with Disability or Child Tax)**
  • Child Tax Credits**
  • Pension Credit
  • Have an HC2 or HC3 Certificate

*Income limit £1,250 per month    

**Income limit £17,474 per year

Get a Confirmation of Visit slip stamped on your way out of the prison. Apply online at  www.gov.uk/helpwithprisonvisits  

You’ll need to upload photos of the claim form and travel receipts

If you  have problems with internet access, you can contact the Assisted Prison Visits Unit who manage the system and ask them for assistance 03000 632 100 – this can be expensive from mobiles or email assisted.prison.visits@noms.gsi.gov.uk.

Alternatively, speak with The Croft at the prison or contact us by email at help@barlinnievisitorscentre.org

Load More

Visiting HMP Barlinnie

This works differently for different types of visits.

There is a monthly timetable of visits, with 4 Remand and 3 Convicted visits each weekday and 2 of each at the weekends – you always have to book a visit in advance.

Agents’ Visits (e.g. lawyers, social workers, other court appointed work) are drop-in Monday – Friday 8.30am – 3pm. Other Agents such as Housing Officers and charity workers need to make an appointment to visit, charities need to have a signed off Partnership Pack with the prison. The Booking Number (Agents only) is 0141 770 2094.

Remand: can have a visit every week day and at the weekend with up to 3 adults and any number of children. The visitor books the visit via the Remand Booking Line 0141 770 2109 – you need to give 24 hours notice to book a visit and can book for visits a week in advance. The booking line is open Weekdays (9am – 1pm AND 2pm – 4pm) Monday & Thursday Evenings (4 – 8pm) Saturdays (9am – 1pm).

Convicted: have 4 visits per month with up to 3 adults and any number of children. The person in prison books the visit and a Visit Order is sent to you in the post.

Private Visits: if there is a birth or death, a private visit can sometimes be arranged. Contact the Family Contact Team on 0141 770 2037

More information is available on the Scottish Prison Services website

Additional Child Focused Visits

Aswell as attending regular Convicted or Remand visits, since 2015, HMP Barlinnie is able to offer additional child focused visits. These are all booked by the person in prison via the Family Contact Team.

Child Visit & Early Years Visits: these are extra visits that don’t count towards the weekly / monthly entitlement. The person in prison is able to interact more with the child or young person. Only one adult can come on this visit with the child / children.

Child Visits: 5.15 – 6pm (Cut-off time is 5pm) on weekdays for children aged up to 18 years old.

Early Years Visits: 2 hour visits on weekday mornings and afternoons for pre-school children.

Load More

Yes, all adults need to bring photographic ID and a recent official letter with your address on it. You may be given up to 3 weeks to get photographic ID if this is your first ever visit. The Croft has a subsidised Citizen Card ID application form which they can send to you or you can pick up at the prison. Children aged under 16 need to be accompanied by and adult but they do not need to bring their own ID.

The prison accepts the following for photographic ID:

  • Valid Passport
  • Photographic Driving Licence
  • Citizen/Validate UK Card
  • Senior Citizens Bus Pass

The prison accepts the following for proof of address provided it is less than 3 months old:

  • Utility bill
  • Council tax bill
  • Bank statement
  • Other letter from official source

Load More

Yes. HMP Barlinnie has a play area in the Main Visit Room that is run by PlayStation children’s charity. Check their timetable to find out when the play area is staffed. In addition, HMP Barlinnie also has child focused visits which take place in a different visit room with more facilities for children. Check at the prison for more details – usually prisoners can access this type of visit once per month, more often if there is space.

Load More

Load More

Support for Visitors in the Atrium (Foyer): Croft staff are available in the prison foyer and in the Waiting Area before most visits. If you want to arrange a support chat before or after your visit – this will be in the glass Pod on the left as you come in. The Pod also has books, magazines and colouring in – if it isn’t being used for an appointment, feel free to browse.

Where to sign in: go to the Visitors’ Booking Desk on the right in the entrance area, you will be asked who you are visiting, their Prisoner Number and to show your ID. You will be given a table number for the visit.

Lockers: You need to put any bags and coats or jackets with hoods in a locker before you go in to the Waiting Area, the lockers take a refundable pound coin. The ONLY things you can bring in are £10 in coins and some medications and/or some baby things – check this with prison staff.

Support for Visitors in the Waiting Area: Croft staff are usually in the Waiting Area before the visit – they all wear a purple and green badge and will often be at the back at the leaflet stand or speaking with another visitor. You can approach Croft staff to ask any questions you have about visiting and any additional support that you need both at the prison and in the community – we work with lots of different organisations who can help with money advice; telling children about prison; health; mental health and many others.

Toilets: the ONLY available toilets are in the Waiting Area, including an accessible toilet and baby changing area. If you need to leave your visit to use the toilet, you will not be let back in to the visit.

Going up to the Visit: after the CUT-OFF TIME a prison officer will come in to the Waiting Area and call visitors through by table number. If the visit is very busy, visitors may be called up in batches with doors closed behind each set of people – this is to ensure security.

Security / searches: You will then go through to the Visits Room via Security. There will be a Rub Down Search and may be a Drugs Search potentially with drugs dog.

In the Visits Room

Seating in the Visit: at each table there is one seat for the prisoner and 3 seats for visitors – the prisoner must stay in their seat for the visit

Tea Bar & Vending Machines: since late 2017, there has been a Tea Bar available for some visits. At other times, visitors can use the vending machines for themselves and the prisoner but cannot share food with the prisoner. Prisoners cannot go to the Tea Bar or operate the vending machines.

Load More

Handing in items for someone in prison

You can pay money in at the Cash Desk in the prison foyer (Weekdays 9.30am – 11.45am & 12.45pm – 7.45pmpm, Weekends 9:30am – 12pm AND 1 – 4pm) – this can be for someone in any Scottish prison, as long as you know their Prisoner Number.

Load More

You need a Proform to bring or post a limited range of items for the prisoner, such as some clothing and hobby items for all prisoners and toiletries for convicted prisoners. The prison has a set system which needs to be followed:

  • Prisoner requests a Proform from Halls Staff
  • Prisoner completes Proform requesting items
  • Prisoner return Proform to Halls Staff
  • Proform is posted to family member / friend
  • Family member / friend receives completed Proform
  • Family member / friend brings completed Proform and items to prison OR posts the items and Proform to prisoner.

Load More


The Croft can support you before and after visits, at the prison and through email. You can also book a support chat at HMP Barlinnie or over the phone here.

We also work with lots of other organisations who can give you more specialist help. We work a lot with Families Outside, who help families affected by imprisonment across Scotland. You can contact them during office hours via their Freephone Helpline 0800 254 0088.

Our Support pages have details of other organisations who can support people affected by imprisonment.

Load More

Family Contact Officers offer support and information to Families Affected By Imprisonment. They provide guidance and advice relating to any concerns or issues you may have about your family member during their time in HMP Barlinnie. The Family Contact Team offer a range of programmes and activities for prisoners and their families which include: family inductions; parenting courses; play and share visits; storybook dads and family events.

Family Contact Officers can be contacted on 0141 770 2037 (The phone is not staffed at all times during the day, but there is an answer machine service so please leave your name and contact details and they will get back to you as soon as possible)

Load More


Yes, the Croft or Families Outside can talk to you about this and there are several books and websites which can help explain things to children at different ages and stages.  There is no one right way to tell children about imprisonment – every family is different. We can help you explore the options and find the way that is best for your child. The Croft also works to train teachers of local schools about how prison effects children. For many families, involving the school can be very positive and will help to make sure that children are being supported consistently at home and at school.

Load More

There are several different organisations which help prisoners settle back in to the community when they’re released. Many organisations refer to this work as “Throughcare” because the staff usually start working with the person before they are released and continue that care through to when they’re in the community. People will be eligible to get help from different organisations, depending on things like how long they have been in prison; their age and whether they have mental health or addiction issues. Most organisations will work with people whether or not they have a family home to go back to.

Prison Throughcare Support Officers: these are prison officers who work with men being released to Glasgow postcodes and who do not have addiction issues. They usually start working with the person 6 weeks before their release date.

The Wise Group: helping people coming out of prison to build a better future.

Positive Prisons: the appreciation of people with convictions as citizens.

SACRO Throughcare: advice, guidance and assistance to prisoners and their families before and after release.

Simon Community Scotland: combatting the causes and effects of homelessness.

Load More


Families Outside have a document that’ll guide you through Home Detention Curfew (HDC) and Ankle Tags.

What is Home Detention Curfew?  How does it work?  Who is eligible?  Does the prisoner have to apply for HDC? What is a suitable home address?  If they meet all of the criteria, will a prisoner automatically get HDC?  What happens if the SPS decision is not favourable?  If HDC is approved, how soon will a short term prisoner be released?  If HDC is approved, how soon will a long term prisoner be released?  If released, what does the person have to do?  What happens if the person has commitments during curfew times?  Will allowances be made for special circumstances?  As a member of the household where the person resides, who do I contact if there is a problem?  What assistance (including financial) is there for supporting household / family members during HDC release?  What happens if the prisoner is imprisoned in Scotland and the home address is in England?  What happens when the person reaches their liberation date?

Load More