Guidance

Cookham Wood Young Offender Institution

Cookham Wood is a young offender institution (YOI) in Rochester, Kent, for boys and young men aged 15 to 18.

Applies to England and Wales

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Book and plan your visit to Cookham Wood

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 Cookham Wood you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit at least 3 working days in advance
  • have the required ID with you when you go

The young person can have up to 3 adults and 3 children (under 18) at each visit. At least one visitor must be an adult.

If the young person is on remand they can have 3 visits a week.

If the young person has been convicted (they have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing) they can have one visit a week.

Contact Cookham Wood 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 Cookham Wood
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

Cookham Wood is currently operating a limited visits schedule for family only.

Booking line: 01634 202 557
The booking line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm
Find out about call charges

You can book your visit online.

Visiting times:

  • Monday: 2:30pm to 4pm
  • Thursday: 2:30pm to 4pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 11:30am and 2:30pm to 4pm

Legal visits are available on:

  • Monday 9:30am to 10.30am and 10:45 to 11.45am
  • Monday to Thursday 2pm to 3pm and 3:15pm to 4.15pm

You can book a legal visit by emailing legalvisits.cookhamwood@justice.gov.uk

Getting to Cookham Wood

Find Cookham Wood on a map

The closest railway station is Rochester. There is no direct bus service from the station to Cookham Wood but there is a taxi rank outside.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is a visitors car park, including spaces for Blue Badge holders.

Entering Cookham Wood

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

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children.

There will be refreshments available during your visit.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Cookham Wood. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats.

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.

Dress code

Cookham Wood operates an appropriate dress code policy. Failure to adhere to this may result in your visit being refused.

Family days

Family days give young people a chance to spend time with their family.

The young person will need to apply for a family day. If the application is successful you can spend the day with them at Cookham Wood and meet the staff who care for them.

Keep in touch with someone at Cookham Wood

You may not be able to speak with someone at Cookham Wood during their first few days. This is because it can take time to approve who they can be in touch with.

Room phones do not accept incoming calls so the young person will always need to call you rather than you call them. However, as a parent or carer you will be given a phone number for your young person’s caseworker (during the first week) so that you can contact them if you have concerns.

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

Every person in Cookham Wood has a phone in their room and can make outgoing calls. They are given £2 credit for calls when they arrive.

A person in Cookham Wood can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by the casework team.

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.

Email

You can send emails to someone in Cookham Wood using the Email a Prisoner service.

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

Letters

Include the person’s name and prison number on the envelope.

If you do not know their prison number, contact Cookham Wood.

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 Cookham Wood are given a list of approved items that can be sent to them as gifts. Contact Cookham Wood for more information on what is allowed.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prison 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 Cookham Wood

Cookham Wood is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where young people can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

Every person at Cookham Wood has a right to feel safe. The staff at Cookham Wood 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 the Medway Safeguarding Children Board.

Arrival and first night

When a young person first arrives at Cookham Wood, 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.

They will also be given a pack of essentials including food and toiletries.

Induction

Each person who arrives at Cookham Wood gets an induction that lasts about a week. 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

Cookham Wood can house up to 178 boys and young men. Everyone gets their own room with a phone, sink, toilet and shower.

Behaviour

Every week the young person’s progress is assessed. This includes how they’ve treated others and whether they’ve attended education.

With good behaviour, young people can earn rewards and privileges including more money, extra visits and a television for their room.

Free time

Young people can take part in sports, fitness and other activities in their free time.

Faith services

Young people at Cookham Wood have access to a multi-faith chaplaincy service.

Education

Each young person is offered 30 hours of education a week provided by Novus, including 3 hours of physical education.

Subjects on offer include English, maths, IT, business, arts and humanities, and a range of vocational qualifications.

Earning money

Young people in Cookham Wood can earn money by taking part in education.

Spending money

Young people can spend money on things like phone credits, extra food and approved items from a catalogue in their unit.

Temporary release

Young people can sometimes take part in activities outside Cookham Wood. This is known as release on temporary licence. It is often used for things like college placements, work experience and family visits.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Cookham Wood.

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

Contact Cookham Wood

Governor: Darren Wilkinson

Telephone (24 hours): 01634 202500
Fax: 01634 202501
Find out about call charges

Address

HMYOI Cookham Wood
Sir Evelyn Road
Rochester
Kent
ME1 3LU

See map

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Published 29 August 2019
Last updated 2 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Secure video calls update.

  2. Updated governor name

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

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

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

  6. Added link to information about testing for physical contact.

  7. New visiting times and booking information added.

  8. Updated visits information in line with national lockdown.

  9. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions

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

  11. Updated visiting information

  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: HMP Cookham Wood visiting times and visiting procedure changes during coronavirus.

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

  17. Prison visits update.

  18. First published.