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HMP DURHAM Prison Regime Info


Old Elvet Durham DH1 3HU image of HMP DURHAM prison

Phone No.

0191 332 3400

Governor / Director

Tim Allen


Male Cat. B


North East

Operational Capacity


Cell Occupancy

Single and double

Listener Scheme


First Night Centre



Chair: Richard Thomas
Vice Chair: Vacant

Visitor Info Page

HMP DURHAM Visitor Info
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A Category ‘B’ local prison serving the courts in the area, holding both remand and convicted prisoners. There are nine wings including special IDTS and first night/induction wing. The prison suffers from overcrowding with doubling of prisoners in single cells with unscreened toilets. According to prison inspectors prisoners can spend up to 20 hours a day locked in their cells.


The Ministry of Justice has announced that Durham will be not now be put up for tender.

The prison opened in 1819 and was rebuilt in 1881. It has been primarily a local prison and now holds adult males over 21, who are sentenced, convicted and remand prisoners from Tyneside, Durham and Cumbria courts.

HMP Durham acts as a Feeder Prison to HMP Acklington and HMP Frankland.

Durham has a high throughput of prisoners, on average 60% of prisoners are
transferred within 50 days.

7 wings plus Segregation and Healthcare.

  • A, B and C wings - remand, convicted and sentenced prisoners both short and long term
  • D wing - integrated drug treatment system
  • E wing - first night centre and induction unit
  • F and I wings - remand and convicted prisoners
  • G wing - separation and care unit
  • M wing - healthcare inpatients

According to the IMB HMP Durham is grossly overcrowded. The average number of prisoners living two to a cell designed for one prisoner is over 600.

Reception Criteria

Sentenced Convicted and Remand Males over 21 from Tyneside and Cumbria.

  • Full in-cell power
  • Own bedding (duvets only)
  • Own clothes (Remand)
  • Television (50p per prisoner)


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Mon: 08:15 - 11:45 & 13:30 - 15:45
Tue: 08:15 - 11:45 & 13:30 - 15:45
Wed: 08:15 - 11:45 & 13:30 - 15:45
Thu: 08:15 - 11:45 & 13:30 - 15:45
Fri: 08:15 - 11:45
Sat: Nil
Sun: Nil


Times vary by wing regime.
Each wing has 45 minutes - 1 hour Association per day.

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Sports available include;

  • Badminton
  • Circuit Training
  • Hockey
  • Indoor Bowls
  • Light Circuit Training
  • Remedial
  • Soccer
  • Soft Tennis
  • Sports Field
  • Volleyball
  • Weight Loss Programme
  • Weight Training

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9 sessions Monday - Friday.

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Every prison has a Chaplaincy department managed by a Co-ordinating Chaplain and supported by admin staff, other Chaplains and ‘Sessional Chaplains’ (faith leaders who visit for specific services or sessions). The Chaplaincy is considered an important part of the prison structure. When a prisoner arrives at a prison they are usually seen by a Chaplain within 24 hours and are invited to register as a specific religion (if they haven’t already done so) and can change their declared religion at any time.

The Chaplaincy does far more than just pastoral care; they often are able to lend radios, musical instruments and typewriters; they may take part in Sentence Planning and are available as a ‘listening ear’ and are able, sometimes, to help with domestic problems. Most Chaplaincies run various courses and activities which may or may not have a religious theme. Every prisoner has the right to follow their religious practices and attend Chapel for services pertaining to their declared faith (even when segregated).

The Chaplaincy are able to organise faith activities for all main religions (as recognised by the Prison Service; this does not, at present include Rastafarian as a specific religion) and contact faith representatives to visit individual or groups of prisoners for the purpose of religious activities. The chaplaincy can also intercede on matters of religious dress, diet and artefacts. A full list of permitted artefacts can be found in the Glossary Section under Religious Artefacts.

You can contact the Chaplaincy by letter or by telephoning the main prison number and asking to speak to the Chaplaincy. The Chaplaincy works as part of the prison and cannot, therefore, guarantee confidentiality (they can explain this to you in detail). Prisoners can contact the Chaplaincy in person or by Application.

Chaplaincy Statement of Purpose (HMPS)
The Chaplaincy is committed to serving the needs of prisoners, staff and religious traditions by engaging all human experience. We will work collaboratively, respecting the integrity of each tradition and discipline. We believe that faith and the search for meaning directs and inspires life, and are committed to providing sacred spaces and dedicated teams to deepen and enrich human experience. We contribute to the care of prisoners to enable them to lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release.

The Co-ordinating Chaplain at Durham is: Barrie Cooper

There are full-time Anglican, Catholic and Muslim Chaplains, plus a visiting Free Church Chaplain.

There are facilities for all faiths, upon request.

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Prison Head of Healthcare : Mrs Kay Cooper
Tel: 0191 3323400

Commissioner: North East Offender Health Commissioning Unit
0191 374 4138

Provider: North East Offender Health, Care UK
0191 3729936

Healthcare provision within the establishment is provided by Care UK who directly employ staff and sub-contract for some primary health care services. Nursing, pharmacy and support healthcare services are provided by Care UK staff. Other primary care services are contracted out by Care UK e.g., GP, dental, ophthalmic, physiotherapy, podiatry, mental health services and are provided by a number of different sub-contractors.

Prisons are a community like any other and CareUK offer all of the health services any community needs in one place and with a single team. This includes reception health checks, regular GP services, substance misuse, mental health, sexual health, chronic or long-term conditions, podiatry, physiotherapy, dentistry and optometry.

Healthcare is provided to many different types of prisoners – male, female, juvenile, young offender and adult – in all types of establishments, including A, B, C and D category prisons. In partnership with commissioning bodies, the needs of each individual establishment are assessed and CareUK work with prison staff to deliver improved outcomes, reduced waiting times and the very best frontline healthcare for prisoners. We are proud of our track record in improving the long-term health of prison inmates and lowering rates of emergency hospital admissions.

A large number of clinics are held, many conducted by visiting specialists.
There is also a fully equipped dental suite, X-ray, telehealth and wing based treatment rooms. A new healthcare facility is being built and this will include in-patient facilities.
Additionally telemedicine, provided by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, is provided for a range of specialties. This enables prisoners to have planned outpatient appointments as well as urgent care from within the prison via video link.

Any queries or concerns about healthcare should be addressed in the first instance by contacting the Head of Healthcare.


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The Manchester College
The Manchester College, Offender Learning Directorate, Fielden Compus, Burlow Manor Road M1 3HB
Tel: 0800 068 8585

Career Information & Advice Services (CIAS)
A4e (Action For Employment Ltd)
Bessemer Road, Sheffield S9 3XN
Tel: 0800 345 666

Classes include;

  • Art
  • Basic Education
  • Computer Studies
  • English
  • Key Skills
  • Life & Social Skills
  • Literacy
  • Maths
  • Numeracy

Courses include;

  • Bricklaying
  • British Computer Society
  • British Institute of Cleaning Science
  • British Institute of Cleaning Science
  • Business Presentation
  • Business Presentation Intermediate
  • Business Studies
  • Certificate in Clait Plus
  • Certificate in using ICT
  • Clait L I
  • Clait Plus
  • Clait Plus 2
  • Creative Craft
  • Developing Enterprise
  • Diploma in Clait Plus
  • Document Presentation
  • Drawing
  • ECDL Advanced
  • ECDL Advanced Spreadsheets
  • ECDL L2
  • ECDL Level 1
  • ECDL Powerpoint
  • ECDL Presentation
  • ECDL Word Processing
  • Food Premises Cleaning Certificate
  • Improving Your Own Learning
  • IT Users Certificate
  • Key Skills Communication
  • Mailmerge
  • Mailmerge Intermediate
  • New Clait
  • New Clait Certificate
  • OLP Key Skills
  • Painting and
  • Text Production Basic
  • Text Production Intermediate
  • Textile Production
  • Waste Management
  • Word Processing
  • Word Processing Basic
  • Word Processing Intermediate
  • Word Production



OFSTED inspect education establishments from schools to colleges to prisons. They inspect education facilities within prisons and have inspected HMP Durham.

Inspection judgements
Inspectors use a four-point scale to summarise their judgements about achievement and standards, the quality of provision, and leadership and management, which includes a grade for equality of opportunity.

Key for inspection grades

  • Grade 1 Outstanding;
  • Grade 2 Good;
  • Grade 3 Satisfactory;
  • Grade 4 Inadequate.


Click Here for further information on how inspection judgements are made.



Scope of the inspection
In deciding the scope of the inspection, inspectors take account of the provider’s most recent self-assessment report and development plans, and comments from the local Learning and Skills Council (LSC) or other funding body. Where appropriate, inspectors also consider the previous inspection report , reports from the inspectorates’ monitoring visits, and data on learners and their achievements over the period since the previous inspection.

Last Inspection Date: 22/09/2006


Summary of grades awarded

Leadership and management: 3
Equality of opportunity: 3
Quality improvement: 3
Construction, planning and built environment: 3
Other government-funded provision: 3
Information and communication technology: 2
Preparation for life and work: 3
Literacy and numeracy: 3
Independent living and leisure skills: 3 

To read their report click here

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Prison Workshops

Contract Services
Data Entry

Employment includes;


  • Bricklaying
  • Data Input
  • Gardening
  • Industrial Cleaning
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Plastering
  • Sports Studies
  • Waste Management and Gardens.
  • Woodwork


Learning aims recorded for Skills Funding Agency OLASS
Adult Literacy
Adult Literacy (Entry 1, 2 and 3)
Adult Numeracy
Award for Developing Enterprise Capabilities
Basic Construction Skills
Certificate for IT Users (CLAiT Plus)
Certificate for IT Users (ECDL Part 1)
Certificate for IT users (ECDL Part 2)
Certificate for IT Users (New CLAiT)
Cleaning Operators' Proficiency Certificate
Construction Skills Certification Scheme
Developing Enterprise Skills (QCF)
Diploma for IT Users (New CLAiT)
ECDL Advanced - Presentations
ECDL Advanced - Spreadsheets
ECDL Advanced - Word Processing
Emergency First Aid at Work (QCF)
ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 1)
ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 2)
ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 3)
Food Safety in Catering (QCF)
Foundation Creative Craft
Foundation Programme
Functional Skills English (QCF)
Functional Skills Information and Communication Technology (QCF)
Functional Skills Mathematics (QCF)
Health and Safety in the Workplace
Intermediate Creative Craft
Introductory Basic Construction Skills
IT User Skills (ITQ) (QCF)
Key Skills in Improving Own Learning and Performance
Non-externally certificated - Entry Level, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A
NQF - Level 1, Construction, Planning and the Built Environment (SSA 5), PW C
NQF - Level 1, Information and Communication Technology (SSA 6), PW A
NQF - Level 2, Information and Communication Technology (SSA 6), PW B
NQF - Level 3, Information and Communication Technology (SSA 6), PW B
NVQ in Hospitality
Practical skills/crafts, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
QCF provision - Entry Level, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A
QCF provision - Level 1, Information and Communication Technology (SSA 6), PW B
QCF provision - Level 1, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A
QCF provision - Level 2, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A

Using ICT (Entry 3) (QCF)


Current Wages


Employed: £7.00 - £21.00
Education: £7.00 (Basic &Standard), £21.00 (Enhanced)
Retired: £5.00
Long term sick: £5.00

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  • P-ASRO

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  • Job Club
  • Job Centre+
  • Self-employment classes


Family Days Available


Guardian Has To Stay


Own Children




Age Limits

Up to 18

No of Visitors Permitted

1 adult plus children

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Ministry of Justice Performance Rating for this prison: 3
This is on a scale from 1 (serious concerns) to 4 (Exceptional) and is worked out by the Ministry of Justice taking into account 34 criteria such as overcrowding, purposeful activities etc. A score of 3 is considered a good performance. Published quarterly.

Average weekly hours of Purposeful Activity: 16.3 (2010)
This figure is supplied by each prison to the Prison Service. Actual hours are usually dependent on activities etc. and should be taken as the maximum time either in workshops or education over a whole week.
Both of these figures are published retrospectively by the MoJ and HMPS and may have changed since the figures were published but they give a simple comparison between prisons.


Annual Budget: £20.400,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £34,886
*The annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare.

Parliamentary Information
CONSTITUENCY: City of Durham
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour)

Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA



Most prisons now have PIN phones. Your relative or friend usually needs to apply to have your name and number on his/her telephone account. You will usually receive a call from the prison to check who you are and to ensure you are happy for them to call you. Prisoners cannot receive telephone calls.

There is no restriction on who prisoners can call except in the case of calls to journalists intended to be broadcast. In some cases child protection measures may mean extra checks on who they call.

Prisoners can normally make calls only during ‘association’ periods. Some prisons limit the length of time a call can last to avoid queues and people being disappointed. Prisoners’ telephone calls are very expensive; calls to landlines now cost 10p per minute and 37.5 p to mobiles (compared to 2p in a public phone box). In most prisons the phone calls can be listened to and/or recorded.

If a prisoner is newly convicted or transferred they should be offered an immediate ‘Reception’ phone call to tell you where they are. It may take a few days for numbers to be transferred or added.

When you write to a prisoner you must include your full name and address. In most prisons the letters are searched and can be read before being given to the prisoner.

You can write about anything but letters must not be obscene, name ‘victims’, or be a threat to discipline or security. Do not enclose any items with letters. Make sure you put sufficient postage to cover the costs (anything bigger than A5 counts as ‘large’). Prisoners can normally receive a ‘reasonable’ number of letters per week.

If you send greetings cards these should be of reasonable size and not padded or pouched. Do not send musical cards. If you are sending more than one card put them all inside one outer envelope, this saves postage. Remember to include your full details (you could put your details on a ‘Post-It’ note stuck to the card or include a letter which has your details).

Always put the prisoner’s full name and prison number. If the person has been moved their mail will be forwarded.

On conviction or transfer a prisoner should be given a ‘Reception’ letter to write to tell you where they are.

Prisoners are given a free letter each week to post out, they can send more, but at their own expense. Some prisons allow you to send in stamps.

You can usually send in photographs but in some prisons these must not include any image of the prisoner. Child protection measures may mean that some prisoners may not receive pictures of children, unless they are their own and were not ‘victims’. If you send pictures of children include an explanatory note identifying who the children are and their relationship to the prisoner.

It is not a good idea to send cash, this can get ‘lost’ in the prison. Prisons prefer postal orders, but you could send a cheque. Make these payable to ‘H M Prison Service’, write your name on the back and also the prisoner’s full name and prison number. Any money sent which is deemed to be ‘anonymous’ can be stopped.
Money you send is paid into the prisoner’s ‘Private Cash’ account and they get access to a certain amount (depending upon IEP) each week [currently £15.50 for Standard prisoners].

For full information about visits please refer to our ‘Visit Info’ section for this prison. Visits are very important to prisoners. At most prisons you may not give any item to the prisoner. Any items you wish to give them must usually be posted to the prison, and often after the prisoner has placed an ‘application’ for authorisation to have it sent in. The items which can be posted in are very limited. Check with the prisoner first and wait until they confirm that you can post it.

If there is a serious emergency - close family serious illness, death, or other reason you need to inform the prisoner immediately, you should telephone the main prison number and explain the problem to the operator who will transfer you to the appropriate person. If you are unhappy about their response redial and ask to speak to the Chaplaincy. Prison staff will not pass on general messages but only critical and very urgent messages. You should provide full details of the prisoner including their number.

Support and Advice
There are many very good charities and agencies who offer support and advice to people with family or friends in prison. We have a special section ‘Help/Support’ which has details and contact information for many of these. Do not hesitate or feel shy about calling any of these; they are there to offer support and advice.

This service operates at this prison. Email a Prisoner enables you to send messages to prisoners, in the UK and Irish prisons that operate the service, from any computer, without any of the hassles of writing and posting a letter, and it costs less than a second class stamp!

Your message is delivered to the prison within seconds so that it can be delivered to the prisoner by the prison staff in the next delivery.

It is free to sign up to Email a Prisoner and only takes a few seconds - all you need is an email address (EMaP can help you if you don't have an email address).

Once a member you will be able to send a message to any prisoner in the UK or Ireland, provided you know their prisoner number, from just 25 pence per message.

Click Here for link to Email a Prisoner website


Story Book Dads/Mums
Story Book Dads/Mums operates at this prison.
The imprisoned parent records a story and a message which is then edited and enhanced using digital audio software and editors remove mistakes and add sound effects and music. Finally a CD is made, a personalised cover created, and the finished disc sent to the child. The whole service is free.

Click Here for more information


Prison Video Link (PVL)
All prisons with video link facilities have at least one courtroom and two briefing rooms where the defendant can hold a conference with their solicitor before and, if required, after their court hearing.

If court hearings are not taking place it may be possible for solicitors, barristers and Probation Officers to hold interviews with a prisoner via video link to save having to visit the prison.

The facility is also available to assist the Parole Board in dealing with oral hearings.
It should be noted however that court hearings must take priority.

At other times, operational reasons may mean bookings are refused or cancelled at short notice.

To book the Video Link facility telephone: 0191 332 3590 (Direct dial)

Race Equality:
"The Governor and Staff at HMP Durham are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity, and promoting good relations between people of different racial groups. HMP Durham's Race Equality Action Team ensures delivery of Race Equality by managing our Race Equality Action Plan."

For further details regarding Race Equality at HMP Durham, including information from their Impact Assessment Programme, please contact their Race Equality Officer at the prison address above.


Monitoring and Inspection
Prisons Inspectorate
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) regularly inspects prisons and produces a report of their inspection with recommendations for improvements.
Click Here  to download a guide to inspections
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download the latest inspection reports for all prisons
Independent Monitoring Board
Each prison has an Independent Monitoring Board made up of local people who visit the prison regularly to check on the treatment of prisoners. They produce an Annual Report.
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download current and earlier IMB annual reports
Click Here  to download the IMB’s information leaflet; explaining who they are and what they do.
OFSTED, who check on teaching standards in schools also visit prisons and publish a report of their findings.
Click Here  to visit our Library Section where you can download OFSTED reports for all prisons
Monitoring & Inspection
Our on-line Library has a special section containing information, reports and publications about the monitoring of prisons and related services.
Click Here  to visit the ‘Monitoring and Inspection’ section of our on-line Library

Information in this section has been kindly provided by the individual prison and the Ministry of Justice. This is supplemented with information from various government websites, Inspectorates and IMB reports and specialist departments within the Prison Service, government, and regional assemblies/parliaments.
Some of the data is published retrospectively: IMBs/Visiting Committees publish their reports up to 6 months after the end of the reporting period and at different times throughout the year, HMCIP publish their reports up to 6 months after the inspection. Population and performance figures are the latest published but can be considerably out of date.
Please Note: Information is constantly changing: The information on our website is regularly checked but if you have additional information, or if you believe that any of our information is incorrect or any links appear to fail please click on ‘Contact’, below.
Before acting upon any information you are advised to contact the prison directly to ensure there have been no recent changes.

Last Update: June 2013

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