Visiting Prison

In person visits resumed in Scottish Prisons in April 2021 following restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid 19. Public Health measures remain in place and there are still restrictions on visiting arrangements, which vary between prisons. The latest information is available on our Covid 19 guidance page and on the Scottish Prison Service website. In all establishments, Governor’s retain the autonomy to consider individual visits regimes. In some cases, individual prisons may need to re-introduce restrictions on visiting and social contact in response to local outbreaks of Covid 19 so please check with the prison before travelling. Families Outside will provide information through Twitter, Facebook and our Helpline if we become aware of significant outbreaks in prisons or restrictions on visits.

Some people may find visiting a prison daunting. This can be especially true for children or those who have never visited a prison before.

Although all prisons are different we hope this walkthrough at HMP Grampian gives you an idea of what to expect.




The majority of prisons in Scotland now have a Visitors’ Centre service for family members visiting the prison.  Visitors’ Centres are a vital service that:

  • improve the visits experience for people visiting their family member or loved one in prison by providing facilities and refreshments
  • provide families access to independent and impartial advice, information, and support; and
  • voice the needs of families affected by imprisonment to the Prison Service.

All Visitors Centres are operated by not for profit organisations, which are independent of the prisons they work alongside.  Each centre is managed by friendly, professional staff who provide a welcoming, family-friendly area which can offer information, support, or help to families visiting the prison.

Families Outside provides the national coordinating role for Prison Visitors Centres in Scotland.

The visiting processes and services available for families change from prison to prison. For more information on visiting each prison, check out our Prison Information pages.

Prison Information

For more information about Prison Visitor Centres – please view the Scottish Prison Services website.

This is a fantastic place to come before the visits. Having somewhere to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat makes what could be a tense place, a very relaxed environment. The volunteers are very friendly and welcoming! Thank you very much!

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