Chelmsford Prison

Chelmsford is a prison and young offender institution (YOI) in Chelmsford, Essex for men aged 18 and over.

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Book and plan your visit to Chelmsford prison

Prison social visits are temporarily suspended at Chelmsford prison following national lockdown. We will update here as soon as this changes. There may be the opportunity for visits under exceptional compassionate reasons which should be agreed in advance with the prison prior to travel.

Find out more about visiting someone in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also follow @HMPPS on Twitter and read a rolling update page.

There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them. You can:

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003.

Keep in touch with someone at Chelmsford

There are several ways you can keep in touch with a resident during their time at Chelmsford.

Secure video calls

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

Read more about how it works

Phone calls

Most residents have phones in their rooms but they will always have to call you. They buy phone credits to do this.

They can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by security when they first arrive so it may take a few days before they are able to call.

Men in the segregation unit do not have phones in their rooms but are allowed one call a day.

You can also exchange voicemails using the Prison Voicemail service.

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


You can send emails to someone in Chelmsford using the Email a Prisoner service. You might also be able to attach photos and receive replies from the resident.


You can send letters at any time. Include the person’s name and prisoner number on the envelope. If you do not know their prisoner number, contact Chelmsford.

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
  • cash (not recommended unless sent by special delivery)

Postal orders and cheques should be made payable to ‘The Governor’ or ‘HMPPS’ and include the resident’s name and prisoner number on the back.

You must put your name and address on the back of the envelope.

Gifts and parcels

Only in exceptional circumstances can men in Chelmsford receive parcels. Men can apply for this.

Every new resident is given a self-adhesive label and a property information form that they can send out to family or friends for a parcel of items to be sent back. All parcels must have the sender’s name and address on the label.

All parcels are checked by officers.

Life at Chelmsford

Chelmsford is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where men can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by Essex Safeguarding Adults Board.

Men who need to talk in confidence or who are in distress can make use of the Samaritans’ listener scheme, as well as the ‘insider scheme’ designed to help new residents in their first few days.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Chelmsford, 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 Chelmsford completes an induction period. 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.


Around 750 men live at Chelmsford in a mixture of single and double rooms.

Residents have access to a gym and a library.

Education and work

Residents can take courses in basic skills and education, including maths and English, IT, business, graphic design and personal and social development, all which offer recognised qualifications.

Residents have access to a range of vocational training, including painting and decorating, multi skills and industrial cleaning. Chelmsford also offers the health and safety course, the Construction Skills and Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, roofing courses and a music production course.

Work opportunities are available in laundry, recycling, tea packing, card folding, wire stripping, yards, gardens and catering.

Chelmsford Prison has an active resettlement centre which helps residents with housing, benefits and employment issues supported by staff from Job Centre Plus and the Ormiston Children and Families Trust.

Temporary release

Chelmsford does not offer release on temporary licence (ROTL).

To access it, residents with more than 16 months left to serve are transferred to an appropriate training prison.

Organisations Chelmsford works with

Chelmsford gets support and help from Ormiston Families.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Chelmsford

Ormiston Families tries to reduce anxiety for young people and children visiting prison and supports their emotional well-being and school attendance by providing a safe space for them to talk, play and express themselves.

For one-to-one support, email:

Problems and complaints

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

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

Contact Chelmsford

Governor: Penny Bartlett

Telephone (24 hours): 01245 552 000
Fax: 01245 552 001
Find out about call charges


HMP/YOI Chelmsford
200 Springfield Road

See map

Safer custody hotline

Residents or their families and friends can use the Safer Custody Helpline to report any concerns about bullying, violence, debt, self-harm or suicide. It is an answer machine, checked and followed up every day. Leave your name, the resident’s name, a return contact number and brief details about your concern.

Family and friends telephone: 01245 552 297
Find out about call charges

Residents telephone: Use the PIN 87872946, then dial 01245 552 297

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Published 24 March 2020
Last updated 21 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated visit info

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

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

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

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

  6. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  7. Updated information to include confirmation of secure video calls being available at this prison.

  8. Added survey link

  9. Prison visits update.

  10. First published.