Did you know that you can have a video call with someone in prison? Every prisoner is allowed one secure social video call per month.

We know how important it is for friends and family members to stay in touch with people in prison. Video calling is just one way that you can do this, as well as face-to-face visits, telephone and email a prisoner

To have a video call with a prisoner in England and Wales, you need to use a smartphone or tablet device installed with one of these apps:

  • Prison Video for public sector prisons
  • Purple Visits for private sector prisons

Both apps are available to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store (or equivalent app stores outside the UK).

HMPPS (the Prison Service) has produced an updated user guide and list of frequently asked questions (see below) for Prison Video. Information about Purple Visits is on the Purple Visits website.

Both video calling providers operate to HMPPS' standards for security and protect your information.

Most prisons in England and Wales use Prison Video as they are public sector prisons.

The private prisons which use Purple Visits are:

  • Altcourse
  • Ashfield
  • Bronzefield
  • Doncaster
  • Dovegate
  • Five Wells
  • Forest Bank
  • Lowdham Grange
  • Oakwood
  • Parc
  • Peterborough
  • Rye Hill
  • Thameside
  • Northumberland

Prison Video User Guide

Download Prison Video User Guide

Prison Video FAQs

Download Prison Video FAQs

What is Prison Video?

Prison Video is an app for secure social video calls that helps you stay in touch with people
in public sector prisons in England and Wales.

I haven’t had a secure social video call before – what can I expect to happen?

Once a call is booked, you will receive a notification confirming the day and time it will take

The call will start when your family member or significant other has connected at the other
end, so please be patient.

Once the call has started, you will be able to see and hear each other.

During the call, the system will continually check the identities of the people present to make sure that only people who have been approved by the prison are on the call.

The system will also check for signs of inappropriate clothing or nudity. If it detects any of
these things, the call will be paused automatically.

In most cases the secure video call will then resume automatically.

What do I need to do to use Prison Video?

Step-by-step instructions are in the Prison Video user guide.

Do I have to pay for social video calls?

Social video calls are currently free, as they have been since they were introduced in the pandemic. This is being kept under review.

How many social video calls can prisoners have?

Prisoners are allowed 1 secure social video call per month. Governors may allow additional calls for wellbeing reasons and in exceptional circumstances.

Can children join a Prison Video call?

Yes, children can join a Prison Video call if they are registered and approved as extra participants in your Prison Video account. This means you will need to add details of the children who wish to take part in the video calls, and a clear photo of each child’s face looking straight at the camera.

No other ID is required for children unless requested by the prison.

Who else is allowed to join a secure social video call?

Only people who have been added and approved as participants will be allowed on the call.

What are the rules for secure social video calls?

  • Just like phone calls, all video calls are recorded for security and public safety purposes, and staff may watch or listen to them
  • No screenshots, photographs or screen recording is allowed
  • You must wear appropriate clothing in the same way you would if you were visiting in person
  • Only approved contacts can be on the call
  • The account holder must always be present during the call

You’ll need to follow the usual prison rules around what to wear and how to behave. The call can be paused or ended if prison rules are not followed.

What can I do to improve the quality of the video call?

  • Make sure you have the latest version of the app installed before your call start time. Update your app if prompted
  • To minimise pauses, try to stay fairly still and avoid running or jumping around. If your image is blurred, you are less likely to be recognised by the artificial intelligence (AI) system.
  • Make sure the room is well-lit. Turn to face light from windows rather than have light shining behind you. Uneven or dim lighting can disrupt the way the AI system recognises faces.
  • It is best to avoid sitting in front of photographs - faces in the background may disrupt the AI system.
  • Stay in one place. Moving from room to room and from inside to outside is likely to disrupt your signal.
  • Don’t conduct your call while in a moving vehicle or out in public.
  • Find out if Wi-Fi or mobile data works better for you, and use the more stable connection. A 30-minute call should use less than 100MB of data.
  • Headphones may help with the sound quality of the secure video call, but they are
    not essential.

What should we do if the video call pauses?

  • Try to look square on at the camera and then resume normal movement. This will help the AI to recognise you
  • Avoid sudden movements or jumping around.
  • You may find it easier to pass the phone to one another rather than try to squeeze everyone onto the screen. This will help the AI recognise everyone.
  • Turn on lights and make sure everyone's face is well-lit by front-facing light.
  • Remove any photographs or images of people from the background.
  • Make sure everyone on the call is appropriately dressed. If the system detects possible nudity, the call may pause.
Page last reviewed: 16 March 2023