The prison that you are visiting is taking part in a pilot to test visitors for Covid. It is one of four prisons in England and one in Wales that are taking part.

As you may know, we already offer tests to staff and prisoners. We would now like to offer tests to visitors so that we can stop the potential spread of infection.

We used to check people’s temperature before they could attend their visit to detect potential Covid. We will carry on with temperature checks but doing lateral flow testing as well means we can get a far more accurate response.

It would be helpful if:

  • you could take a lateral flow test at home the day before you visit the prison. You may already be accessing testing through schools, your workplace or through local testing centres in your community. You can also now access free lateral flow tests (online, pharmacy, post).
  • You can bring proof of your negative result either as a photo on your phone or by printing off the email you get with the result.

When you get to the prison for your visit, you will be offered another lateral flow test before you enter the visits area. The person you are visiting will also be offered a test before the visit. This process will take 45 minutes so please build this into your travel time.

Do I have to take a test?

No, this is completely voluntary. Though, you would be helping us to prevent Covid outbreaks in the prison.

If we have an outbreak, it could maybe lead to us restricting our regimes again which we want to avoid where possible. By taking part in this pilot, you will help to protect your loved ones and the wider prison – thank you.

Taking a test will also help us to see if we can start to increase visits, and could help us to start removing some of the restrictions in place like wearing a mask and social distancing.

*The only time you should not take a test is if you have had a positive PCR test in the last 90 days. This is because you may return a false positive.

Who will do my test?

You will be able to test yourself and enter the results on the NHS website – we will not hold any data about your test result.

You will need to register the result of both tests with the NHS on within the next 7 days. If you receive a positive result you must update the website within 24 hours or call 119.

What if I test positive?

If the test is negative then you will be allowed to continue with your visit. Though you will still have to wear masks and remain socially distanced.

If you test positive, our staff will explain to you what happens next and give you more information.

Your visit will have to be postponed until after your self-isolation period is over (2 weeks.) You will also need to book a PCR (lab) test in the community to confirm the result. The prison will give you details on how you can do this and show you websites which will support you.

The person you are visiting will be told what has happened and we will let them know that the visit can be rebooked using the normal visits booking process. This will not be taken out of your visits allocation. The same action will be taken if the person you are visiting has a positive test result.

We know that missing your visit will be disappointing, but by spotting potential cases before they come into a prison, we can prevent potential spread of the virus and help keep people safe.

Will I still need to follow social distancing measures in prison?

At the moment we still need to continue with all of the measures in place like social distancing and wearing masks, even if your test result is negative.

This is in line with the rules in the community, where social distancing and mask wearing still needs to be in place even after a negative test result.

Taking part in this testing will help keep you and your families safe. It will also allow us to progress towards a more relaxed visits environment for you to enjoy with your families. 

Do my children need to take part in the testing?

Children under the age of 11 do not need to take part in the testing.

Secondary school children will be offered a test, in line with community testing. Again, this is voluntary and they will still get their visit if they do not wish to take a test.