21 Oct Detailed guide: Portland Prison and Young Offender Institute
Book and plan your visit to Portland
To visit someone in Portland you must:
- be on that person’s visitor list
- book your visit at least 2 working days in advance
- have the the required ID with you when you go
At least one visitor must be 18 or older at every visit.
There may be a limit to the number of visits a person can have. You can check this with Portland.
Contact Portland if you have any questions about visiting.
Help with the cost of your visit
If you get certain benefits or have an NHS health certificate, you might be able to get help with the costs of your visit, including:
- travel to Portland
- somewhere to stay overnight
How to book family and friends visits
You can book your visit online.
You can also book by telephone.
Booking line: 01305 715 775
Monday to Friday, 9am to 11am
Find out about call charges
- Tuesday: 2pm to 4pm
- Thursday: 2pm to 4pm
- Saturday: 2pm to 4pm
- Sunday: 2pm to 4pm
How to book legal and professional visits
Legal visits must be booked at least 5 working days in advance by email.
- Tuesday: 9am to 11am
- Wednesday: 9am to 11am
- Thursday: 9am to 11am
Getting to Portland
The closest railway station is Weymouth. From there, you can take a bus to the Isle of Portland. There is also a taxi rank at the station.
To plan your journey by public transport:
Portland has a visitors car park, including several spaces for Blue Badge holders.
All visitors must bring the required ID.
Children under 16 should have their birth certificate, or red book for babies who haven’t been registered yet.
Adults should have either one of the following documents:
- valid passport
- driving licence (with photo)
- senior citizen’s public transport pass
- employer ID card (with photo)
Or 2 of the following documents:
- trade union or student union membership card
- proof of age card
- rail card (with photo)
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- library card (with signature)
- credit or debit card
- cheque book
- utility bill
- letter from the council or job centre
All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.
Portland has a strict dress code policy which means visitors should dress sensibly. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like vests, low-cut tops, high-cut shorts or dresses.
Each group of visitors is allowed to take in a maximum of £40 in cash (at least half should be in coins and no £20 notes). The money can be used to buy food and drink from the vending machines in the visiting hall.
There are strict controls on what you can take into Portland. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats.
You will be told the rules by an officer at the start of your visit. Abusive or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated and anyone who appears under the influence of drink or drugs will be turned away. If you break the rules, your visit could be cancelled and you could be banned from visiting again.
There is a visitors centre at Portland which has toilets, a baby changing area and a selection of toys. It opens at 12:30pm on visiting days.
There is a children’s play area and picnic tables in the Governor’s gardens, next to the visitors centre.
There is also a play area and vending machines in the visiting hall.
Portland holds regular family days giving residents more time to spend time with their children in a more relaxed setting.
Residents can apply for these visits.
Keep in touch with someone at Portland
There are several ways you can keep in touch with a resident during their time at Portland.
Residents do not have phones in their rooms so they will always have to call you. They have to buy phone credits to do this. They can make calls in the evening on weekdays and during the day on weekends.
They can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by security when they first arrive so it may take a few days before they are able to call.
You can also exchange voicemails using the Prison Voicemail service.
Officers may listen to phone calls as a way of preventing crime and helping keep people safe.
You can send emails to someone in Portland using the Email a Prisoner service.
You might also be able to attach photos and receive replies from the resident, depending on the rules at Portland.
Include the person’s name and prison number on the envelope.
If you do not know their prison number, contact Portland.
All post apart from legal letters will be opened and checked by officers.
Send money and gifts
You can use the free and fast online service to send money to someone in prison.
You can also send postal orders and cheques. These should be made payable to ‘The Governor’ and include the resident’s name and prison number on the back.
Gifts and parcels
People in Portland are given a list of approved items that can be sent to them as gifts. Contact Portland for more information on what’s allowed.
Items must be ordered and delivered directly to Portland from recognised high street or online shops (no auction sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace). You cannot send items to Portland from home.
Make sure to include the person’s name and prison number on the parcel.
All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.
Life at Portland
Portland is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where men can learn new skills to help them on release.
Security and safeguarding
Every person at Portland has a right to feel safe. The staff are responsible for their safeguarding and welfare at all times.
All safeguarding processes are overseen by Dorset Safeguarding Adults Board.
The Samaritans also train residents be ‘listeners’ to help support other residents going through difficult times.
Arrival and first night
When a resident first arrives at Portland, they will be able to contact a family member by phone. This could be quite late in the evening, depending on the time they arrive.
They will get to speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling and ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.
Each person who arrives at Portland gets an induction that lasts about a week. They will meet professionals who will help them with:
- health and wellbeing, including mental and sexual health
- any substance misuse issues, including drugs and alcohol
- personal development in custody and on release, including skills, education and training
- other support (sometimes called ‘interventions’), such as managing difficult emotions
Everyone also finds out about the rules, fire safety, and how things like calls and visits work.
Around 500 men live at Portland across 7 units. There is a mixture of single and double rooms. Each room has a kettle, TV and a lockable cabinet. Rooms in the Beaufort unit have their own showers.
Education and work
Every resident studies essential skills such as maths and English, giving them a foundation to move on to study for professional qualifications.
Residents can train and earn qualifications in professions such as bricklaying, painting and decorating, carpentry and joinery, horticulture, and gym instruction.
Release on temporary licence
Portland residents have the opportunity to leave the prison for short periods of time. This is known as release on temporary licence. It can be used to gain work experience in the local community and prepare for release.
Organisations Portland works with
Portland works with Catch 22, a not-for-profit business, to help residents prepare for their release. They provide support with things like housing, employment, finance and relationships.
Support for family and friends
Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.
Support at Portland
Barnado’s Family Pathway Programme offers help and support to families of Portland residents and works to strengthen family relationships.
More information is available from the visitors centre.
Problems and complaints
If you have a problem contact Portland. If you cannot resolve the problem directly, you can make a complaint to HM Prison and Probation Service.
Governor: Steve Hodson
Telephone (24 hours): 01305 715 600
Fax: 01305 715 601
Find out about call charges
104 The Grove
Call the 24 hour answerphone if you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing or a man in Portland. Leave as much information as possible and a telephone number for staff to call you back.
Telephone: 01305 715 753
Find out about call charges
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