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Open Estate - Castle Huntly

Prison Name
Castle Huntly
George Ferguson
Deputy Governor
Paul Yarwood
Castle Huntly
Nr Dundee,

Castle Huntly is Scotland's only open prison accommodating a capacity of 285 low supervision adult male prisoners from any Local Authority area. Following a robust risk management process and a period in closed conditions, prisoners can progress to Castle Huntly where the emphasis is on careful preparation for release. Activity focuses on enhanced personal responsibility, job readiness and positive citizenship with the aim of reducing the risk of re-offending and contributing to safer communities. 


It is perhaps hardly surprising that Castle Huntly ranks amongst Scotland's lesser known strongholds, despite its great antiquity, when one considers the use to which it has been put since the Second World War. A girl's probationary school, a Borstal for boys, a Young Offenders Institution and currently an Open Prison for adults. Inevitably, accessibility to the general public has been severely restricted and it seldom features in any guidebooks for obvious reasons.

The exact date of construction is uncertain but, in 1452, the first Baron Gray of Fowlis obtained a licence from James II permitting the building of a fortalice on any part of his land and it is generally agreed that Castle Huntly was completed in the second half of the 15th Century. The earliest surviving record, in the "Register of the Great Seal", records a charter granted by James IV, dated at St. Andrews 7th January, 1508, in which the monarch concedes to Andrew, 3rd Baron Gray, then Justiciary of Scotland "the land and barony of Langforgund, with the dependencies, tenants and tenandries-viz, the lands of Langforgund, Huntlie with the tower and fortalice…"

Built by the 1st Lord Gray of Fowlis, Castle Huntly stands on an outcrop of volcanic rock just south from the village of Longforgan. Stone from Kingoodie Quarry, on the banks of the River Tay was used in its construction. Being exceptionally hard stone, it was built to work with but it was extremely durable as evidenced by the condition of the castle building, now nearly 560 years old.

Over the next 200 years there were a number of additions to the castle. In 1660, an additional storey was added by Earl Patrick of Strathmore, in 1776, a major reconstruction was carried out by the Paterson family, when the building was given a new roof, a central tower or "lantern" was added and two wings, each of two storeys, with an entrance hall in between, were erected so forming what is now seen as the front of the castle.

During the war years, the castle was used as a girl's probation school before being purchased in 1946 by the Scottish Home and Health Department for use as a borstal and, today, it still belongs to the Scottish Prison Service.

(Condensed from an unpublished article written by E. Brownsmith, Governor, 1990)


If you need to contact the establishment, here are some useful numbers - 

Main switch board   01382 319 333

Family Contact Officer   01382 319 425 (The Family Contact Officer is not available at all times, if you contact this number and they are not present, please ask to speak with the Duty First Line Manager).

ICM Co-ordinator   01382 319 432 (Integrated Case Management)

If sending a letter to a prisoner, put their name, prison number and location, followed by the postal address

e.g.    123456 S Smith
           21 Wallace Wing
           H M Open Estate
           Castle Huntly
           Nr Dundee
           DD2 5HL


If you are writing to your client, the Scottish Prison Service considers that it is necessary that you adopt the “double envelope” process as recommended by the Law Society. It is the experience of the Scottish Prison Service that adopting this process ensures that your client receives his or her correspondence unopened and assists in mitigating the abuse of the right to receive such correspondence in this way. If you require further information you can contact us as follows:


tel: 0131 330 3500

By Car from the West
·         Travelling through Dundee on the (A90), Approximately 5 miles from Dundee
·         Take the 2nd Longforgan turnoff and follow the signs to Castle Huntly
·         Taking the road to the right to access the prison when you reach the old stone            gates.

By Car from the North
·         Travelling South (A90) through Dundee towards Perth, approximately 5 miles              from Dundee
·         Take the 2nd Longforgan turnoff and follow the signs to Castle Huntly
·         Taking the road to the right to access the prison when you reach the old stone            gates.

By Car from the East
·         Travelling from the east coast through Perth (A90), approximately 17 miles.
·         Take the Longforgan turnoff and follow the signs via the underpass to Castle              Huntly,
·         Taking the road to the right to access the prison when you reach the old stone            gates.

By Car from the South
·         Travelling North (M90) towards Perth
·         Then follow the A90 east towards Dundee, approximately 17 miles from Perth,
·         Take the Longforgan turnoff and follow the signs via the underpass to Castle              Huntly,
·         Taking the road to the right to access the prison when you reach the old stone            gates.
Alternatively the postcode for Satellite Navigation systems or online route finder – DD2 5HL

By Bus
There is a bus service that runs to Castle Huntly from Dundee City Centre; this is operated by Strathtay buses. The number 39 operates from the Seagate Bus Station in Dundee and stops in Longforgan Village, the same bus service also operates from Perth Bus station at Leonard Street, Perth, Perthshire, PH2 8ET

By Rail
The Prison can be accessed from a number of train stations, Perth (16.1 Miles), Dundee (7 Miles) and Invergowrie(4 Miles) . Contact Scotrail on  for further information.  From the station you can access to public transport to reach the establishment.

There are public parking facilities, which include disabled spaces, for visitors to Castle Huntly.

On entering the establishment the visitors’ parking is on your left outside the links centre.

There are a number of disabled parking spaces outside the links centre. If further assistance is required, phone in advance to inform staff of your individual requirements and this can be managed on your behalf. 




People in custody are responsibly for booking their own visits at Castle Huntly and the have responsibility of informing their visitors of the timing. They are entitled to not less than 2 hours in any period of 28 consecutive days. Evening visits last 1.5 hours, and weekend visits lasting 2 hours with a maximum of 3 adults; this does not include children. 

Agents visits can be arranged on 01382 319 329

All agents are required to give 24hrs notice of any visits or amendments to visit bookings. You are required to carry your Law Society of Scotland ID card. Evening sessions are available on the day for professional agents that have been unable to attend the day time session.

Below is a list of identification requirements and the times of visits session, and what you can expect coming to the prison.To gain access to the prison for the purpose of a visit, you must have two forms of identification, one of which must be photographic ID. 

Entry to the prison will not be permitted without acceptable identification.

The following examples shall be accepted as suitable for photographic ID purposes:

·         Valid Passport
·         Photographic Driving Licence
·         Citizen/Validate UK Card
·         Senior Citizens Bus Pass
·         Workplace photo ID card
·         Photographic Bank Card

·         Other official photo ID i.e. membership card

The following examples shall be accepted as suitable for proof of address provided it is less than 3 months old:

·         Utility bill
·         Council tax bill
·         Benefit book
·         Bank statement
·         Other letter from official source

Official visitors require Identification cards. Agents are required to carry their Law Society of Scotland ID Cards.

On arrival at Castle Huntly for a visit,
On arrival at the barrier you should press the intercom and advise the staff member you are there for a visit.  Once through, bear to the left and park in the visitor spaces, 10 yards from the barrier.  On your right hand side you will see the Link Centre – this is where the visits take place. 

Everyone attending the prison for a visit must book in at the Links Centre, at least 10 minutes before the visit session starts.  This is to allow sufficient time to process your details prior to the visit.   The centre staff will log you in on the system and it’s important this is done first; you can then use the facilities and relax until your visit session starts.  If you are early please go into the Link Centre where there are facilities to wait in comfort.

You will require your identification at this stage. You will be allowed to take in a purse or wallet. If you have a baby with you, you can take essentials such as a change of nappy, baby wipes and baby bottle with milk – baby food is permitted.  The baby items must be left on the links centre desk in the visit room, but you can access them when you need to.

On entering the main door of the Link Centre, there is a front desk with prison officers staffing it.  You will be required to present your identification to the staff.  The staff will then advise you were you can wait for the visit to commence. There will be staff in this area to help and offer guidance.  From November 2014 we aim to have a Family Contact Officer (FCO) available for advice and support also.

In the waiting area you can deposit money for offenders PPC; at the desk the officers will give you a receipt for this. 

Visitors may be subject to a rub down search.  At times, there may be the SPS Dog Unit operating at the visits – it’s nothing to worry about and you will be given instructions by the staff.  If you have any concerns at all – please talk to a member of staff. Visitors can choose where they would like to sit, and will be made aware 5 minutes prior to the end of the session. 

Community Access (Enhanced Regime) - Whilst at open estate, individuals who are on full community access and have been resident for 12 months or over, have the opportunity to apply for inclusion on the Enhanced Regime Process. 

The benefit of the Enhanced Regime is to allow any prisoner who meets the Enhanced Regime criteria, to take two of the following options per month over and above their standard community access plan:

 Weekend visit, between the hours of 10:30 & 15:30 staying within a 20 mile radius of the establishment with immediate family, partner, home leave addressee or friend. / Or

 Week Day 12hr UDR to a specified address, between the hours of 08:00 & 20:00 staying within a 50 mile radius of the agreed address. / Or

 An extended licence whilst on placement, between the hours of 16:00 & 20:00 staying within a 20 mile radius of the establishment with immediate family, partner, home leave addressee or friend.

There will be an FCO available (from November 2014) for anyone wishing to speak to them throughout the evening visits.  The listener group of prisoners operate a tea and coffee making facility, while there are vending machines available for snacks. At the weekend there are sandwiches and fruit provided from the canteen.  There are toilet facilities, including disabled toilets and baby changing facilities available as well as a children’s play area, which again is unsupervised and parents responsibilities.

Handing in Property

Prisoners will complete the relevant form with the date and time property will be handed in. It is the individual's responsibility to inform their visitors what they can hand in and when. Visitors handing in property require photographic identification and evidence of their home address, as described for visiting identification. Staff will issue a receipt for the property.

Posting in Property

You can post in property for prisoners, but the individual must have completed the pro-forma prior to the items arriving.  Mark the parcel for the prisoner's attention.  To ensure the parcel arrives safely, you can send it recorded delivery (cost incurred at the post office).  

Handing in Money

You may deposit money for a prisoner before a visit at the desk. You must provide the prisoner's full name and prison number. A receipt will be issued to you.  (If you are unsure, please ask a member of staff)

Cheques will be accepted with the appropriate bank card, made out to the SPS (will take 5 working days to clear).

Other timings available for depositing PPC are: 

Mon-Fri   9:00-noon  13:00-16:00  19:00-20:00
Sat/Sun  13:00-15:00

Posting in Money

You can post money in to a prisoner for their PPC, (however we would strongly recommend using the online banking service) or recorded/special delivery (costs incurred at the post office) when posting cash, or you can post a cheque or postal order (again there is a cost incurred at the post office for the order) in.  Both of these should be made payable to the Scottish Prison Service, but please note the person's details on the back of the order or cheque.


Visiting Times

Agent's Visit

Agents Visits will take place within the Link Centre which is open for business:

  • Monday - Thursday
    09:00 - 12:00 & 13:00 - 16:30
  • Friday
    09:00 -12:00 & 13:00-14:00

To arrange an agents visit please email to quoting preferences of date/time. please note we cannot accommodate agent's visits on a saturday/sunday

Bruce House

Monday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Tuesday  No Visits
Wednesday  No Visits
Thursday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Friday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Saturday  13:00-15:00
Saturday  13:00-15:00

Murray House

Monday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Tuesday  No Visits
Wednesday  No Visits
Thursday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Friday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Saturday  13:00-15:00
Saturday  13:00-15:00

Wallace House

Monday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Tuesday  No Visits
Wednesday  No Visits
Thursday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Friday  17:30-19:00 (child friendly visits)
Saturday  13:00-15:00
Saturday  13:00-15:00