Getting Into the Prison



Make sure you have read and understood the FOPP Volunteers Handbook, are dressed appropriately, and are aware of what you are allowed to take in with you and what items are prohibited.  Go back to the First Days page and read the appropriate sections if you are at all unsure.

If you are volunteering in the Visits Hall, follow this link , otherwise please read on.

Most people volunteering in the secure areas of the prison will go through the main entrance (right-hand doors). 

Our Volunteer Coordinator will arrange for you to be photographed and fingerprinted by the prison security department.  The photograph appears on your FOPP identity badge along with your forename – we don’t divulge surnames to people in prison.  A digital record of your fingerprint is uploaded to the prison biometric entry system to allow you access through the ‘airlock’ into the secure parts of the prison (see below).  You will usually have the index finger of both hands recorded, with either one allowing you access.  If your index finger won’t produce a clear scan image, the person carrying out the procedure may choose to use one of your other fingers instead.

Access to the secure areas of the prison is through a double-airlock arrangement, with 3 doors.  The first (sliding) door is controlled by the gatehouse staff.  You must then actuate the second, automatic glass barrier by placing your index finger on the scanner beside the barrier.  Everyone (including the Prison Director himself) going into the prison has to submit to this biometric access and checking procedure.

Depending how many people are going through, you may have to wait before the security staff open the third (sliding) door to let you through into the waiting area. There are two couches just inside the waiting area where you can sit until your escorting member of staff arrives.

If you have not yet been issued with your personal FOPP badge (showing your forename) and/or not been fingerprinted, you will have to ask the gatehouse security staff to allow you through the airlock.  In this case, make them aware that you have not been fingerprinted before entering the airlock.

You will not be able to go beyond the waiting area without an officer or member of staff accompanying you.  Volunteers are not issued with keys, so we have to be escorted into and out of the prison by an officer or member of staff. You must wear your FOPP identity badge on a lanyard around your neck and show it to the security staff before they will allow you through the main entrance.  Your I/D Badge must be clearly visible at all times while in the prison.

To reach any part of the prison you will pass through several sets of locked gates and doors.  Keep close to your escort at all times, as he/she is personally responsible for your safety as you move through the various parts of the prison and must make sure that you haven’t been left behind or gone ahead to tag along with another officer.

You will not be routinely searched but anyone can be subjected to a search by security staff at any time.  This may include a full “pat-down” body search, emptying the contents of your pockets, looking through any bag or container you may be carrying, and/or receiving the attention of a specially trained dog to check if you are carrying drugs.  It is very likely that you will be subjected to a search at some time during your volunteering career.

Do not attempt to take anything into the prison that is on the Prohibited Items list (see next item), as this can constitute a criminal offence. 

Leaving the prison is very much like entering it.  You will be escorted to the gatehouse waiting area by an officer or member of staff.  You will again need to show your FOPP badge to the security staff before they will open the door into the airlock.  You use a fingerprint scanner again to allow you past the automatic barrier and must then wait for the final door to be opened by the gatehouse staff.  You are then free to leave the building or go to your locker and retrieve your personal items.  Don’t forget to take your token or coin from the locker door!

Click the button and read on to learn more about what it’s like to volunteer here…

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