I’ve previously written about the rules concerning such things as visits and letters to prisoners. These posts were quite widely read but there have been a number of important changes over the past couple of years so I thought I should post a short update.
It used to be the case that you could only visit a convicted prisoner if they sent you a Visiting Order. This is no longer the case. Most prisons (including HMP Wakefield from last year) have introduced a new booking procedure where the prisoner adds someone to their approved visitors list and the visitor can then book a visit online via prisonvisits.service.gov.uk whenever they want. It is no longer necessary for the prisoner to send a visiting order at all. In addition, when this system was introduced, everyone who had previously visited a prisoner at their current establishment was added to the approved visitors list automatically so that prisoners don’t have to add a person to their list if they have already had visits with them.
Secondly, a new system for sending money to prisoners has also been introduced. Using gov.uk/send-prisoner-money you can make a wire transfer of money to a prisoner. The advantage of this over previous methods, is that it is free (as opposed to Postal Orders which tend to cost around 10% extra), it is instant (as opposed to cheques which still take around a month to be cleared into a prisoner’s account for them to use), and it is secure (as opposed to cash which has a habit of going missing somewhere between being posted and being received by the prisoner).
It seems that the prison service is finally accepting that it cannot resist the twenty-first century. Hope that info helps, folks.