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

HMP Bedford is offering visits for family and friends. Visiting times and availability may change at short notice. You should contact the prison direct for any queries.

Now that regular COVID testing of people in the wider community has ended, you are no longer required to take a COVID test before coming to see someone for a visit, although we would still encourage you to do so.

We will continue to run social visits whilst it is safe to do so.

Visiting rules may change if there is an outbreak within the prison, this may include bringing back testing before visits for a short time to protect you, the person you are visiting and staff.

If you are unable to visit someone in prison you can still keep in touch.

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003. You will not be able to book a visit using this number.

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

Bedford is running a limited visits schedule. Visits are also happening differently than normal, observing strict guidelines, which must be followed.

You can book your visit by telephone. There is no online booking service available.

Booking line: 01234 373 196
Monday to Friday, 9am to 12.30pm
Find out about call charges

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:

  • Wednesday and Thursday 2pm to 3:30pm
  • Sunday 1:45pm to 2:45pm or 3:15pm to 4:15pm

You can make a booking by email at:

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..

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.

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 will be no refreshments available during your visit and the children’s play area will be closed.

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 rooms so they will always need to call you rather than you call them.

Secure video calls

Secure video calling is available at this prison. Family and friends will need to download the Prison Video app, create an account, register all visitors and add the prisoner to their contact list.

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.


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.


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

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.

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 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.

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Bedford Safeguarding Adults Team.

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.


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.


About 500 men live 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 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.

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


HMP Bedford
St Loyes
MK40 1HG

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you are concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a prisoner 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.

Help us to improve this page. Give us your feedback in this 2-minute survey.

Published 19 November 2019
Last updated 1 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

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

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

  4. Updated physical contact guidance

  5. Added visiting times and booking information.

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

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

  8. Covid update

  9. Updated visit info

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

  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 national restrictions in England.

  14. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  15. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  16. Visits information updated

  17. First published.