Guidance

Bedford Prison

Bedford Prison is a prison in the centre of Bedford for men 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

At least one visitor must be 18 or older at every visit. A maximum of 3 adults are allowed per visit.

There is a limit to the number of visits a person can have. You can check this with Bedford Prison.

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.

You can also book by telephone, email or paper form.

Booking line: 01234 373 196
Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm, 2pm to 4pm
Find out about call charges
Visits for the next day must be booked by telephone before 1pm on the previous working day.

Email: socialvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk
Give at least 2 working days notice.

Paper booking forms are available from the visitors centre at Bedford Prison. Give at least 2 working days notice.

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm
  • Tuesday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm
  • Wednesday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm
  • Thursday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm
  • Saturday: 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3:15pm to 4:15pm
  • Sunday: 1:45pm to 2:45pm, 3:15pm to 4:15pm

There are additional children’s visits on Wednesday from 10am to 12pm. The resident must book these.

Email: legalvisits.bedford@justice.gov.uk

You can also book by telephone.

Booking line: 01234 373 179
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times are Monday to Friday: 9:30am to 11:45am and 2pm to 4:15pm.

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 18 and older need to bring photo ID showing date of birth and proof of address. Suitable forms of photo ID include:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • benefit book
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass
  • annual public transport season ticket (with photo card)
  • employer ID card (if it shows the name of the visitor and the employer)
  • European Community identity card
  • student card
  • CitizenCard

Acceptable forms of proof of address include:

  • utility bill
  • official letter
  • prescription

Children must have ID proving date of birth. You can use the child’s red health book.

When you arrive at Bedford Prison, you will need to check in at the visitors centre. 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) or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats.

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.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £20 in coins (notes are not allowed). The money can be used to buy food and drink from the snack bar in the visits hall.

You will be told the rules 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

There is a snack bar inside the visits hall providing hot and cold drinks and a variety of hot food, snacks and sweets.

A play area is provided inside the prison visits hall. There are also baby changing facilities.

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.

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

Phone calls

Residents 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 from the resident, 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 also send:

  • postal orders
  • cheques

Postal orders should be made payable to the resident using their full name and prisoner number. Cheques should be made payable to HMPPS and include the resident’s full name and prisoner number on the back.

Gifts and parcels

People in 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.

Life at Bedford Prison

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

Security and safeguarding

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

If you have any concerns about a prisoner at Bedford Prison, contact the Safer Custody team or speak to a member of staff at the visitors centre.

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Bedford Safeguarding Adults Team.

Arrival and first night

When a resident 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 person 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 men live at Bedford Prison.

Education and work

Residents 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 Ormiston Families, a charity supporting children, young people and families to manage the challenges they face and improve their life chances. The Ormiston Families team 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.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Bedford Prison. If you can’t resolve the problem directly, you can make a complaint to HM Prison and Probation Service.

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

Contact Bedford Prison

Governor: Patrick Butler

Telephone: 01234 373 000
Fax: 01234 273 568
Find out about call charges

Address

HMP Bedford
St Loyes
Bedford
MK40 1HG

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you are concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Bedford, call the safer custody hotline.

Telephone: 01234 373 069
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

An answerphone is available out of these hours that is checked twice a day. You can also call the main prison telephone number if out of hours.

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Published 19 November 2019