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Apply for an Assisted Prison Visit

Assisted Prison Visit Scheme

If you are receiving benefits or are on a low income, you may be eligible to claim the cost of travel to prison visits from the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU).

To be eligible for this scheme you must be:

  • A close relative of the person you wish to visit (wife, husband, mother, father, son, daughter, brother or sister, grandparent, adoptive/step/half brother/sister, step-child or step-parent), or you are their sole visitor (the only person who is visiting them).

If you claim as a sole visitor, the APVU will confirm with the prison that the person has not been visited by anyone else in the four weeks prior to your visit.

  • In receipt of Income Support, Income- Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit with a disability element or Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or hold a Health Benefits Certificate.

You must send in your Health Benefits Certificate or tax credit award notice the first time that you claim.

  • A dependent of someone who is receiving any of the above benefits.
  • Partners who were living with the prisoner, as a couple, in an established relationship immediately prior to imprisonment are eligible.
  • If you weren’t living together but have eligible children then you may qualify for help by acting as an escort to the child(ren).

You should send in proof that the prisoner is the parent of the child(ren) with your first application form. If the prisoner’s name is on the birth certificate, this will serve as proof. If not, you can visit your local Registry Office who can provide assistance and the proper form.

The first time you claim, you will have to fill in a fairly detailed form giving information about yourself and the person you want to visit. APVU forms are available to download, at the prison, the prison visitors’ centre, your local citizens’ advice bureau, or from the APVU itself.

You can claim for one visit every 14 days up to a maximum of 26 a year. Claims must be made within 28 days of the date of the first visit.

If you need to apply before you visit, allow at least two weeks for the APVU to process your claim and send you the payment in time.

You must send all receipts/tickets and a confirmation of visit voucher to APVU for every visit that you make even if it is your last visit. Use the freepost envelopes that they send you (the confirmation of visit voucher is sent to you by APVU. It must be completed at the prison).

APVU will pay for travel to and from the prison by public transport or private motor vehicle. They will not pay for taxis unless the fare is less than the public transport alternative, there is no public transport available, or there is a medical reason which makes travel by taxi necessary (a note of confirmation from your doctor stating your inability to travel by public transport will be required).

If you are away from home for five hours or more, you can also claim a set meal allowance. Overnight allowances may be paid at the discretion of the APVU. You will need to write to them at least two weeks before the visit giving the reason why an overnight stay is necessary.

APVU will cover the cost of childminding if it is not appropriate for the children to visit, but the child minder must be registered with the local authority.

For more information and find out if you are eligible for help, contact the Assisted Prison Visits Unit:

Address: PO Box 2152, Birmingham B15 1SD
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10.15 am to 11.45 am and 2.15 pm to 3.45 pm
Tel: 0845 300 1423
Text phone: 0845 304 0800
Fax: 0121 626 3474


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