Assisted Prison Visits
Receiving help with travel costs
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).
Am I eligible?
You are eligible to claim if you are:
- A close relative of the person you wish to visit, ie. 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, ie. 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.
What if I am a prisoner’s unmarried partner?
Partners who were living with the prisoner, as a couple, in an established relationship immediately prior to imprisonment are eligible.
We weren’t living together, but we have children together
If this is the case, 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, the prisoner can sign an affidavit stating that they are the child’s parent. A special declaration form is available from the APVU. The prisoner should sign the declaration in the presence of a justice of the peace or solicitor. A member of the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board (formerly Board of Visitors) will be able to act as witness.
How do I claim?
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 can be obtained from Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service. They are also available at the prison, the prison visitor’s centre, the probation service, other prisoners’ family support organisations, your local citizens’ advice bureau, or ring APVU on 0121 626 2206 for a form.
You will not have to fill this form in every time you claim. APVU will send you a shorter repeat claim form with your girocheque to use for subsequent visits.
What can I claim?
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 eight working days for the APVU to process your claim and send you the girocheque 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 prepaid labels 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 8 working days 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.
If there is anything else you need to know about the scheme you can write to the APVU at:
Assisted Prison Visits Unit
PO Box 2152
Phone: 0845 300 1423 (Mon to Fri 10:15-11:45 & 14:15-15:45)
Textphone: 0845 304 0800 (times as above)
Fax: 0121 626 3474 (24 hrs)
(please include your full postal address when requesting an information pack).(back to top of page)