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Edinburgh is a large community facing prison receiving prisoners predominantly from courts in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders, but also those from the Fife area. The current design capacity is 870 and we hold on average 900 prisoners per day.


The prison manages adult male  individuals including those on remand, short term sentences (serving less than 4 years), long term sentences (serving 4 years or more), life sentence prisoners and extended sentence prisoners (Order of Life Long Restrictions). 

Exterior of Edinburgh Prison

Visiting the prison

The process at Edinburgh is that all prisoners book their own visits and have the responsibility to inform their visitors of the day and time of the visit.

Remand prisoners may have one 30 minute visit daily, except Sundays – no visits are facilitated on this day. 

Convicted prisoners are entitled to not less than 2 hours in any 28 days period. There is a maximum of 3 adult visitors, this does not include children (under the age of 16).

  • Agents visits must be made by telephone 0131 444 3124 or by emailing [email protected]. All agents are required to give 24hrs notice of any visits or amendments to visit bookings. Information on Legal Visits by video link can be found below.

  • Below is a list of identification requirements, the times of visits session, depending on the location of the offender, facilities and what you can expect coming to the prison.

    To gain access to the prison for the purpose of visiting, 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
    • Young Scot 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
    • Bank statement
    • Other letter from official source

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

  • The Visitor Centre at Edinburgh is open 7 days a week, from Mon to Fri 09:00 – 21:00, Sat 09:00 – 16:00 & Sun 12:00 – 16:00. It is a purpose built building managed by Barnardo's in conjunction with the SPS and the Onward Trust. It provides support for families affected by imprisonment visiting a friend or relative. The centre offers a welcoming and supportive environment especially for first time visitors who are unsure of prison procedures.

    The visitors centre has a café, which sells hot food and drinks; there is an outside and inside play area for children (parent’s responsibility to supervise) and lockers for any belongings not permitted in the establishment. You will need a £1 coin to operate the locker which is refundable. Toilet facilities are available in the centre.

    Everyone attending the prison for a visit must book in at the visitor centre, at least 30 minutes before the visit session starts. This is to allow sufficient time to process your details and walk the short distance to the visits room. 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 is called.

    If you have a baby with you, you can take essentials such as a change of nappy, baby wipes and baby bottle with milk – no baby food is permitted. The baby items must be left on the FCO’s desk in the visit room, but you can access them when you need to.

    On entering the prison through the main door you will be required to present your identification to staff. You will then walk through a metal turn-style into a secure waiting area. There will be staff in this area to help and offer guidance.

    All visitors will be asked to walk through a metal detector and given a rub down search by a member of staff. 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.

    You will be taken down a short corridor to the visits room where you will be met by the FCO and they will allocate you a seat. Once visitors are seated the prisoners will then be brought in. You will be made aware 5 minutes prior to the end of the session. At the end of the session prisoners will leave first and then visitors will be asked to exit.

  • There is always a FCO available for anyone wishing to speak to them throughout the visits. 

    Cold drinks and a selection of snacks are available from vending machines. These accept cash or card payment.

    There are toilet facilities, including disabled toilets and baby changing facilities available. There is also a children’s play area. Please note that children should be supervised by parents/carers at all times.

  • Click here for information on the Scottish Legal Aid Board web site for solicitors looking to register for and use video link technology to conduct meetings with their clients in custody.

  • Property for convicted and untried individuals may be handed in at the main front desk on the following days and times.

    • Monday to Friday
      • 10:00 - 19:45
    • Saturday and Sunday
      • 12:30 - 14:00


    Individuals in custody will complete the relevant form (pro forma) with the date and time property will be handed in. It is their 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.

  • You can post in property for individuals in custody, but they must must complete the pro forma prior to the items arriving. Mark the parcel for the individual’s attention. To ensure the parcel arrives safely, you can send it recorded delivery (cost incurred at the post office).  

  • You can post money in to an individual for their PPC, however we would strongly recommend using the online banking service or recorded/special delivery (costs incurred at the post office).

    You can post cash, a cheque or postal order (again there is a cost incurred at the post office for the order). Cheques or postal orders should be made payable to the Scottish Prison Service, but please note the individuals details on the back.

Getting in touch

Family and Friends

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


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:

Email: [email protected]

How to get there

    • Take the M8 to Hermiston Roundabout
    • Take the third turn off and proceed along A8 to Calder Roundabout
    • Turn left and follow signs for the City Centre-the prison is on the right after the third roundabout.
    • Take the A90 to Barnton Roundabout, and then take the Maybury Road A902
    • Turn right at the end and proceed towards the Gogar Roundabout
    • Join the City Bypass (A720) and take first exit to City Centre
    • At Calder Roundabout turn left and follow signs for City Centre, the prison is on the right after the third roundabout
    • Take the A1 to the City Bypass (A720)
    • Join the City Bypass (west) exit to City Centre at Calder Junction
    • Turn right and follow signs for the City Centre-the prison is on the right after the third roundabout
    • Route Nos A68, A701, A702 and A7 all have access to the City Bypass (A720)
    • When you reach the City Bypass (A720) continue westwards and exit at the Calder Junction
    • Follow signs for the City Centre-the prison is on the right after the third roundabout

    There are extensive public parking facilities, which include disabled spaces, for visitors to HMP Edinburgh.

    On entering from the main road, turn left for the visitors’ main parking.

    For disabled parking, turn left into the main car park, but then immediate right and the disabled spaces are right outside the visitors centre.

  • Lothian Regional Transport buses (coloured maroon) Nos 3, 25, 33, run from Princes Street through Haymarket and past the Prison. There are bus stops on both sides of the road, within 50 metres of the entrances to the prison.

  • The Prison can be accessed from Edinburgh Park, Haymarket or Waverley Stations. Slateford is the closest local station to the Prison. Contact Scotrail for further information. From the station you can access public transport to reach the prison.

History of the prison

Tolbooth 1386 to 1817

The Old Tolbooth was used as a gaol where judicial torture and executions were routinely carried out. A projecting permanent platform was built on its west side, so that the public could view beheadings and hangings.

Calton Gaol 1817 to 1924

Calton Jail (Gaol) opened in 1817 amidst some controversy. Lord Cockburn remarked: 'It had been a piece of undoubted bad taste to give so glorious an eminence to a prison.'  Jules Verne who visited Edinburgh in 1859 described the gaol as resembling a small-scale version of a medieval town. 

HM Prison Edinburgh 1924 to date

The building of the prison started around 1914 with the first prisoner being received about 1920 replacing Calton gaol, the current site of St Andrews House on Regent Road Edinburgh. The prison has been completely rebuilt in recent years and was the first prison to complete a refurbishment programme. The opening of Ratho House in January 2009 represented the completion of 10 years of redevelopment work. The oldest building within the grounds of the Prison is Glenesk House which opened in 1998.