Frequently Asked Questions

What and why?

Prison Voicemail enables family or friends to exchange voicemail messages with a prisoner at any time. They are assigned a unique landline phone number, which they can call at any time to leave messages. The prisoner accesses the messages by dialling the same number from any phone in the prison, and can choose to leave a reply.
For the family/friend:
  1. It rebalances communications by enabling the family to initiate contact, meaning they can share thoughts and feelings as they happen, rather than waiting until the next time the prisoner calls.
  2. It’s fast - messages are instantly available at the other end.
  3. Available at any time - users can exchange voicemails straight from their mobile phone at any time. This is particularly useful if the family member works or is unable to be by the phone during the day.
  4. No more missed call frustration - family members who have missed a call from the prison can just call back and leave a voicemail, relieving their feeling of guilt or frustration.

For the prisoner:
  1. Less queueing - no need to queue to get to the phone at peak times. Send and receive messages at off-peak times instead.
  2. Less worry - Receive regular updates, or easily arrange times for calls and visits.
  3. More contact - family can share thoughts or feelings wherever they are, and exchange messages even when both parties are on different schedules.
  4. Cheaper than calling a mobile - calls cost the price of a landline call, but the family member can listen and respond on-the-go from their mobile.
If you often miss calls from a prisoner, or find it difficult to be on the phone at the same time, our service will be very helpful. Likewise if you have family members such as children or elderly people who are unable to have contact with the prisoner but wish to, being able to exchange voicemails can make a huge difference.

Signing up

  • The family or friend of the prisoner signs up for Prison Voicemail on our website ( or over the phone (01603 340588).
  • You will need:
    1. Your phone number
    2. Basic prisoner details including prisoner number
    3. Credit or debit card
  • You first input your email address, phone number (this will be the only phone you can leave messages from), and the select the name of the prison from the drop-down menu. You have to agree to Prison Voicemail’s terms and conditions by ticking the box before proceeding.
Yes, just give us a call on 01603 340588 and we’ll help you to sign up.
Yes, you can sign up with a landline number by going to this link. In this case, you will receive notifications of replies from the prisoner via email instead of texts.
Yes, you can sign up for an international account by clicking on this link. If your country is not available, let us know and we will see if we can support it.
No, we will work with the prison to do that. However, if the prisoner does not check their messages once they have been informed, it is up to the family member to ask them to.

Using Prison Voicemail

  1. The user dials their Prison Voicemail landline number from the mobile phone registered to their account (they will not be able to get through from any other number).
  2. The service automatically hangs up the call and then calls the user back within 30 seconds. This is a security measure, but has the added benefit that it saves the caller’s phone credit.
  3. The user answers the call from our service and is prompted to leave a voicemail. They leave their message and hang up when finished. The user can repeat this process to leave more messages.
  4. The message is then instantly available at the other end. The next time the prisoner dials the same Prison Voicemail landline number from inside the prison, they will hear the message played back to them. If there are multiple messages, the prisoner will hear them one after another.
  5. Once the messages have played, the prisoner can hang up or leave a reply message and then hang up when finished.
  6. The user will receive a text message notification the first time the prisoner checks for a message, and if the prisoner leaves them a reply.
Users must not leave messages which may have a negative impact on the prisoner’s state of mind. In the event that messages are left which may cause distress, they must contact the prison directly to ensure prison staff can provide support.
  • Prison Voicemail advises that the user leaves relatively short messages on a regular basis, rather than longer messages or multiple messages before the prisoner has had a chance to listen to earlier messages. This will reduce the chances of using all their PIN credit in one go.
  • Prison Voicemail works best if prisoners get into the habit of checking for messages regularly. They do not get charged if they have no message waiting, so can check as often as they like.
  • For frequent contact: If users plan to leave messages regularly, they should remind the prisoner to check every day.
  • For infrequent contact: If users only plan to leave messages occasionally, they should agree a set day each week when they will leave a message, so the prisoner knows when to check.
Calls to the voicemail number must be made from the mobile number registered on the account. Calls from any other phone will get a “number not recognised”.
Messages are limited to just under 3 minutes in length. This is to reduce the amount of call credit prisoners spend when collecting the message, and reduce waiting time for other prisoners who wish to use the phone.
The system only allows the original phone number registered to the account to exchange messages. This number will already have been approved by the prison. When the account holder calls to leave or receive a message, it verifies caller ID by hanging up and calling back on the approved number.
As long as the prison is on our list of active prisons, the service should keep working as before. The prisoner will simply call their voicemail number as usual. You do not need to change anything on your account. For a small number of prisons the prisoner may need to reapply to have all their numbers approved again. In this case please contact us and we will send your account details to the prison.
Each person will need to set up a separate Prison Voicemail account and will receive a unique Prison Voicemail number. The prisoner will need to call both numbers to check for messages.
The PIN phone system does not allow touch tones, therefore our system automatically deletes messages once they have been listened to.
Yes, you can do this by downloading our free app from the Google Play Store or the App Store.
Solicitors will be able to create special accounts which allow multiple prisoner clients to be added. Each will be allocated a unique Prison Voicemail number. In the New Account Registration email, the number will be marked with the status “Confidential” and some additional information about the account owner will be provided, for example in the case of a solicitor, their law society number and company name would be provided. The prison should then add the number to the confidential list in the PIN phone system.
Prison Voicemail is currently expanding to prisons across England and Wales. You can see an up-to-date list by going to this page. Alternatively, let us know and we’ll notify you by email each time we launch in a new prison.
The prisoner must first apply to have your new mobile number approved on their pin list. You may receive a call from prison staff to approve it. Once it has been approved, please let us know and we will confirm with the prison. We will only swap the new number over in your account once we have received confirmation from the prison that your new number is on the prisoner’s approved pin list. Your voicemail number will remain the same.

The mobile app

The app has a number of extra features designed to improve the user experience for the family or friend. It enables users to leave messages without calling their Prison Voicemail number, as well as re-listen to old messages. It also makes it easier to manage your account minutes. As the app uses data connection to send and receive messages, you will need to be connected to the internet to use it.
You can download the free app from the Google Play Store or the App Store.
No, the app is free, but you will need an active Prison Voicemail account to be able to use it.

Live Calls

Live Calls enhance the basic voicemail service by alerting you whenever the prisoner is checking their messages, and enabling you to speak directly to them if you are available. You need the Prison Voicemail app installed on your phone, and an internet connection at the time of the call. When the prisoner gets to the part where they hear “Please leave a message after the beep”, your app will start ringing. You can then answer and be connected directly to the prisoner. Please bear in mind that this uses the internet, so if your connection is poor the call may not be clear. The length of Live Calls are deducted from your minutes. This feature is approved by the HM Prison Service and is not a call diversion.
Universal minutes can be used for live calls or for voicemails. Live Call minutes can only be used for live calls; for this reason they are cheaper than universal minutes.


  • The cost of the service is paid by the account holder outside prison, usually a family member or friend. They choose a monthly subscription package which will automatically be deducted by Continuous Payment Authority once per month.
  • Each package comes with a set number of call minutes for the month. Current packages can be seen on the Prison Voicemail website (
  • Monthly subscription packages mean you sign up for a recurring monthly charge which is taken from your account once per month on the same date. These packages come with an included number of minutes. If you do not use up all your minutes on a particular month, the minutes will roll-over to following months. If you run out of minutes during the month, you can buy top-ups on our website.
  • Pay-as-you-go accounts have no monthly charge. You simply buy top-ups as and when you need them. However if you do not use your pay-as-you-go account for 90 days or more, the account will be cancelled. There is usually a setup fee associated with the pay-as-you-go account which covers our monthly admin costs.
You can log in on the Prison Voicemail website to buy top-ups, change your plan, update card details, or cancel your subscription. Just click “log in” on the menu of this site.
Prison Voicemail does not charge the prisoner for listening to or replying to messages, however the calls will still cost them the usual PIN phone landline rate. If they have no new messages, our system returns a busy tone to avoid wasting the prisoner’s PIN phone credit.
No. If the prisoner has no messages waiting, they will hear a busy tone and will not use any PIN phone credit. They will not be blocked and can make another call to a different number immediately.
Unfortunately Prison Voicemail has not yet been able to get authorisation to offer freephone numbers to prisoners. This is something we hope to do in the future.
The user can just call us on 01603 340588 or email and we will cancel their account. There is no contract tie-in, so they can cancel at any time.

About Prison Voicemail

  • Prison Voicemail is classed as a social venture, meaning we’re a for-profit company but with a social mission. Practically speaking, this means we have a duty to prioritise social impact over all other considerations, including profit. It’s a relatively new model so some people may misunderstand the difference between us and a normal for-profit company.
  • This is the definition from the Social Enterprise UK website:
  • “Social enterprises are businesses trading for social and environmental purposes. Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social and/or environmental purpose is absolutely central to what they do – their profits are reinvested to sustain and further their mission for positive change.”
Prison Voicemail is working with the forensic psychology department at Lincoln university to measure the impact of its service on prisoner and family communication and well-being; safeguarding in the short, medium, and long-term.

More questions? Send us an email at