Guidance

Bedford Prison

Bedford Prison is a prison in the centre of Bedford for prisoners aged 18 and over.

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Book and plan your visit to Bedford prison

To visit someone in Bedford Prison you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit in advance (usually 2 working days notice)
  • have the required ID with you when you go

Contact Bedford Prison if you have any questions about visiting.

Help with the cost of your visit

If you get certain benefits or have an NHS health certificate, you might be able to get help with the costs of your visit, including:

  • travel to Bedford Prison
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

You can book your visit online or by telephone.

Telephone booking line: 0345 646 2277

Find out about call charges

The booking lines are open:

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 12pm to 5pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Visiting times:

  • Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 2pm to 4pm

Email enquiries can be sent to socialvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk

Opening times are Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.

Morning visiting times are:

  • 9:30am to 10:30am
  • 10:45am to 11:45am

Afternoon visiting times are:

  • 2pm to 3pm
  • 3:15pm to 4:15pm

Prison to Court Video Links (PCVLs)

Book by email: Legalvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk Call: 01234 373 179 There is usually next day availability.

Legal/official visits

(Face to face)

Book by email: Legalvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk Call: 01234 373 179 There is usually next day availability.

Legal/official visits

(Video)

Book by email: Legalvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk Call: 01234 373 179 There is usually next day availability.

Getting to Bedford Prison

Find Bedford Prison on a map

Bedford railway station is a 15-minute walk, or taxis are available at the station. The bus station is a 3-minute walk.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is no visitor car parking available at Bedford Prison. There are car parks in the town centre a short walk away.

There is disabled access to the visitors centre and the prison. If possible, please let staff know of any additional needs before you arrive.

Entering Bedford Prison

All visitors, aged 16 or older must prove their identity before entering the prison. Read the list of acceptable forms of ID for all visitors..

All visitors must prove their identity. All adult visitors (18 and above) must prove their identity, with a government issued photo ID before entering prison. Regarding children, a birth certificate or red book is permitted.

Read the list of acceptable forms of ID for all visitors.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Bedford Prison. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker (you need a £1 coin). This includes pushchairs and car seats. Visitors must arrive at the visitor centre to use the lockers. The visits centre is the blue door to the left of the main gate.

You are then expected to check in at the main gate with your ID. Once inside the gate area you will be searched by a member of staff. There will also be a sniffer dog. You will be asked again if you’re carrying any unauthorised articles before you enter the visits hall.

Visitors should dress sensibly. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like vests, low-cut tops, high-cut shorts or dresses, or clothing with offensive slogans.

You will be told the rules when booking and by an officer at the start of your visit. If you break the rules, your visit could be cancelled, and you could be banned from visiting again.

Visiting facilities

The tea bar is open where a selection of basic drinks and snacks will be available. It is £10 per adult and £5 per child to spend in each session. You will have to bring this in coins only and in clear plastic bags.

The play area in the visitor centre is now open.

Keep in touch with someone at Bedford Prison

You may not be able to speak with someone at Bedford Prison during their first few days. This is because it can take up to 5 days to approve who they can be in touch with.

Prisoners do not have phones in their cells so they will always need to call you rather than you call them.

Secure video calls

To have a secure video call with someone in this prison you need to:

  • Download the Prison Video app
  • Create an account
  • Register all visitors
  • Add the prisoner to your contact list.

How to book a secure video call

Secure video calls at this prison can be requested by prisoners only.

You will receive a notification if a prisoner has requested a video call with you.

Read more about how it works

Phone calls

Prisoners can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by the public protection team.

You can also exchange voicemails using the Prison Voicemail service.

Authorised officers may listen to phone calls as a way of preventing crime and helping keep people safe.

Email

You can send emails to someone in Bedford Prison using the Email a Prisoner service.

You might also be able to attach photos and receive replies, depending on the rules at Bedford Prison.

Letters

Include the person’s full name and prisoner number (if you have it) on the envelope.

All post apart from legal letters will be opened and checked by officers.

Send money and gifts

You can use the free and fast online service to send money to someone in prison.

You can no longer send money by bank transfer, cheque, postal order or send cash by post.

If you cannot use the online service, you may be able to apply for an exemption - for example if you:

  • are unable to use a computer, a smart phone or the internet
  • do not have a debit card

This will allow you to send money by post.

Gifts and parcels

Prisoners at Bedford prison can buy permitted items from approved online retailers.

For other requests, contact Bedford Prison for more information on what’s allowed.

If approved, make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Friends and families of prisoners are permitted to send books directly to their loved ones, or can order books from approved retailers, which can source and send the books on to prisoners.   For the full list of approved retailers, you can read the HMPPS Incentives Policy, Annex F.

Life at Bedford Prison

Bedford Prison is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where prisoners can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

Every prisoner at Bedford Prison has a right to feel safe. The staff are responsible for their safeguarding and welfare at all times.

For further information about what to do when you are worried or concerned about someone in prison visit the Prisoners’ Families helpline website.

Arrival and first night

When a prisoner first arrives at Bedford, they will be able to contact a family member by phone. This could be quite late in the evening, depending on the time they arrive.

They will get to speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling and ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.

Induction

Each prisoner who arrives at Bedford Prison gets an induction that lasts about 2 days. They will meet professionals who will help them with:

  • health and wellbeing, including mental and sexual health
  • any substance misuse issues, including drugs and alcohol
  • personal development in custody and on release, including skills, education and training
  • other support (sometimes called ‘interventions’), such as managing difficult emotions

Everyone also finds out about the rules, fire safety, and how things like calls and visits work.

Accommodation

About 500 prisoners are at Bedford Prison.

Education and work

Prisoners have access to a range of work, training and education opportunities including:

  • industrial cleaning
  • painting and decorating
  • independent living skills
  • production workshops
  • physical education qualifications
  • laundry
  • kitchens

They can also get help and support on issues such as health and wellbeing, substance misuse, housing, debt and family relationships in preparation for release.

Support for family and friends

Bedford works with G4S. It is based in the visitors centre. It provides support and information to help you access available services.

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Concerns, problems and complaints

In an emergency

Call 01234 373 000 if you think a prisoner is at immediate risk of harm. Ask for the Orderly Officer and explain that your concern is an emergency.

Contact category Phone number Additional information
Non-emergency 01234 373 069 Call this number if you have concerns about a prisoner’s safety or wellbeing which are serious but not life-threatening or complete a safer custody contact form on the Prisoners’ Families Helpline website.
Staff Integrity Hotline 0800 917 6877
(24 hours answering machine)
This number can be called anonymously. If you are concerned about a prisoner being bullied by a member of staff, you can use this number. As this line is managed separately from the prison, you can call this number anonymously.
Prisoners’ Families Helpline 0808 808 2003 The Prisoners’ Families Helpline can provide confidential support, advice and guidance.
Unwanted Prisoner Contact 0300 060 6699 If a prisoner is contacting you and you want them to stop, you can use the Unwanted Prisoner Contact Service.

You can complete the Stop prisoner contact online form, email unwantedprisonercontact@justice.gov.uk or contact by phone.

Inspection reports

HM Prison and Probation Service publishes action plans for Bedford Prison in response to independent inspections.

Contact Bedford Prison

Governor: Ali Barker

Telephone: 01234 373 000
Fax: 01234 273 568

Address

HMP Bedford
St Loyes
Bedford
MK40 1HG

See map

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Published 19 November 2019
Last updated 13 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated visits booking line number

  2. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

  3. Added link to new safer custody information under Security and safeguarding.

  4. Updated visiting information: Testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  5. Updated physical contact guidance

  6. Added visiting times and booking information.

  7. Clarification on the rules for sending in books, under the 'Gifts and parcels' section

  8. Prison has resumed visits for family, friends and significant others. We will update this page with specific visiting information as soon as possible.

  9. Covid update

  10. Updated visit info

  11. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  12. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  13. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  14. Updated visiting information in line with new national restrictions in England.

  15. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  16. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  17. Visits information updated

  18. First published.