December 30, 2020
Introducing Purple Visits
Purple Visits are now live at Forest Bank and allow video calling with family and friends; this is a great way for you to support residents while the current visiting restrictions are in place.
Here we’re answering some of the common questions about the service:
Q. What is the video calls service?
Sodexo and HMPPS are working with a private company, Purple Visits, to provide secure video calls in prisons whilst social visits are cancelled. The service allows you to hold a private video call with your friends and family.
Q. Who can have a video call?
Most residents will be able to have a video call however some residents will not be eligible if there is an identified risk. Any resident who is ineligible will be fully notified of the reason.
Q. How do I apply for a video call?
From Monday 7th December you’ll see a new application on the Kiosk under the Visits tab, scroll down to virtual visits which will take you through the application process. You’ll need your name, your prison number and the names of your video callers to apply.
Q. How much do video calls cost?
The video calls are free while social visits are suspended.
Q. When might I be able to have my first call?
We expect demand for this service to be very high. We will work to ensure all eligible residents are scheduled for a call within a month of going live.
Q. How often can I have video calls?
Currently once a month.
Q. How long are the calls?
Calls are 30 minutes each. Calls will start and finish promptly at the scheduled time.
Q. How do the calls get arranged?
Currently we are asking family members to request a visit via the app. Please inform your loved ones to log onto the app and request a slot, this will then be confirmed and you will be notified by a member of the visits team.
Q. What do I need to know about making sure my family can join the call?
The main caller must be over 18. - You can only have video calls with people on your approved visitor list. - There can be four people on each secure video call with you and they must all be registered for the call in the Purple Visits app. If someone appears on the call who is not registered for the call, or who is not on your visitor list, the call may be paused or stopped.
Q. What do I need to tell my family to do before the call?
Ask them to download an app called Purple Visits to their smartphone or tablet and set up an account using approved ID (passport or driver’s licence). They’ll also need to add your name and prisoner number and the name of this prison to make sure they can connect with you.
Q. What happens when it’s time for my video call?
You will be unlocked and escorted to the room where the video call will happen about 15 minutes before the call time. You’ll need your prison number to sign in to the app. Once signed in, you will be in a virtual waiting room until the video call starts. Before the call starts, you will be asked to read and sign a Communications Compact which explains the terms and conditions of the call and circumstances for monitoring. You must sign to agree with these conditions before the call is activated.
Q. How does the app work?
It uses the latest facial recognition technology. If the software sees someone unexpected, or identifies anything inappropriate, it will pause the video call. Please ensure your family are in a room with a blank background- any photos or canvas’s could distract the facial recognition and could cause the call to end prematurely.
Q. Will someone sit with me during my video call?
No but all secure video calls will be recorded under Prison Rule 35A. When monitoring, prison staff will view all live video calls via a camera.
In addition to all video calls being viewed your call may also be subject to audio monitoring.
You will also need to follow the usual prison rules around what to wear and how to behave.
Q. Will video calls continue once we’re allowed social visits again?
At the moment, secure video calls are replacing social visits. There may be plans to extend secure video calls in prisons, but nothing has been decided yet.
We appreciate your patience during the this difficult time and thank you for your continued support. We hope to get Social Visits up and running again as soon as we safely can.