Elmley Prison

Elmley is one of 3 prisons for men that form the Sheppey Cluster in Kent, the other two being HMP Standford Hill and HMP Swaleside.

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Book and plan your visit to Elmley

Elmley is now offering limited visits for family and friends in line with coronavirus restrictions.

To ensure the safety of visitors, residents and staff, there are strict guidelines which must be followed during you visit.

To visit someone in Elmley you must:

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

At least one visitor must be 18 or older at every visit.

Prisoners on remand can have a visit every day, if there’s space. Once sentenced, visitors need a visiting order (VO) and will get 2 every 14 days. Residents with enhanced privileges will get 2 extra visits a month.

Contact Elmley 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 Elmley
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

Elmley 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: 0300 060 6605
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday to Friday: 9:15am to 10:15am and 2:15pm to 3:15pm

There are currently no legal visits taking place.

Getting to Elmley

Find Elmley on a map

The closest railway station to Elmley is Sheerness. Buses and taxis run from the station which is 8 miles from the prison.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is free parking for visitors, including some spaces for Blue Badge holders.

Entering Elmley

All visitors aged 18 and older need to bring one of the following types of photo ID:

  • 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

If you don’t have one of the above, you need to bring 2 of the following forms of ID:

  • birth or marriage certificate
  • cheque book or credit/debit card (counts as one form of ID)
  • employer’s pass or ID
  • young person’s ‘proof of age’ card
  • trade union or student union membership card
  • rent book
  • non-EU foreign identity or residents’ card
  • expired documents from the above lists that appear satisfactory in other ways
  • ID card from a recognised prison visitors’ organisation (for example, New Bridge)
  • CitizenCard (UK national ID card)

Children need one of the following as ID:

  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • student card

If the child is under 6 weeks old, bring in their red book.

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.

Elmley has a strict dress code policy, which means visitors should wear smart clothes (no vests, no low-cut tops, no shorts, no short dresses and no headwear, other than that worn for religious reasons).

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Elmley. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker or with security. You can take pushchairs and car seats into the prison, but they will go through an X-ray machine.

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

The visitors centre is open from 11am to 4:30pm on weekdays and from 7:30am to 4:30pm on weekends.

There is an unsupervised children’s play area, a snack bar and disabled access to the prison.

Family days

The charity Spurgeons offers several family days a year where there are play activities in a relaxed atmosphere for children who visit parents in prison.

Catch-up days for adults only are also offered.

Residents can apply for both of these.

Keep in touch with someone at Elmley

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

Phone calls

Residents have phones in their rooms but can only make outgoing calls so they will always have to call you. They have to buy phone credits to do this. They can be used between 6am and 10:30pm.

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.

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 Elmley 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 Elmley.

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


You can write at any time.

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

If you do not know their prisoner number, contact Elmley.

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

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

Gifts and parcels

Books are the only items that can be sent into prison. Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel. All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Contact Elmley for more information on what’s allowed.

Life at Elmley

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

All safeguarding processes are overseen by the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Elmley, 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 Elmley gets an induction that lasts about a week.

They will be issued with bedding, toiletries and an early days’ welfare pack.

They will also 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.


There are 6 units that hold about 1150 residents.

There are units for vulnerable prisoners, foreign nationals, first night residents, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and mixed units.

Education and work

At Elmley, all residents must work towards Level 2 English and maths. There are classroom assistants to help with learning.

Alongside this, foreign nationals must try to improve their English. There is ICT, City and Guilds construction certificates, Equality and Diversity qualifications and other industry-based learning.

‘In House Records’ is the first HM Prison record label to encourage residents to learn how to play, create, mix and manage music.

First Aid, diet, nutrition and personal training courses are offered in the gym. Residents can also train to be a ‘mentor’ so they can take on key peer worker roles. One of the units runs a community art project.

A careers advisor helps with application letters and CVs. Every 3 months, a selection of employers come to the prison to offer job vacancies, apprenticeships and training opportunities to residents that are almost ready for release.

Once accredited, the courses in forklift truck driving, streetworks and traffic management guarantee an interview through the Mainstream group.

Daily employment is available in gardening, environmental services, recycling, cleaning, laundry and kitchen work.

Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) workers offer a wide range of courses to encourage residents to make a fresh start, such as victim awareness and empathy, violence reduction, managing worry, understanding triggers for re-offending, mindfulness, communication and financial skills and parenting.

Temporary release

Elmley does not offer release on temporary licence (ROTL) at the moment.

Organisations Elmley works with

Elmley works with The Forward Trust which offers many courses on health, well-being and motivation, as well as drug and alcohol treatment programmes.

There are relationship and ‘thinking’ programmes on offer to residents too, as well as help with resettlement issues like accommodation, banking, citizen ID cards, birth certificates and employment from Seetec.

Elmley also works with the charity Spurgeons which helps with family visiting days.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Elmley

Visitor centre staff offer friendly advice and support to all families and can refer them on to other agencies, such as domestic abuse or debt management services.

They also help with applications for family proceedings and have access to Relate, who offer free parental counselling for a resident due for release, if he and his partner have children of school age.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Elmley. 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 Elmley in response to independent inspections.

Contact Elmley

Governor: Paul Woods

Telephone (24 hours): 01795 802 000
Fax: 01795 802 001
Find out about call charges



HMP/YOI Elmley
Church Road
ME12 4DZ

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concern about the safety or wellbeing of a prisoner in Elmley please leave a message stating the name and prison number of the person you are concerned about.

This messaging service is checked several times a day. You may not receive a call back due to GDPR data protection restrictions.

Telephone 01795 802433

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

Published 7 April 2020
Last updated 14 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  2. Added confirmation of secure video calls being made available at this prison.

  3. Updated safer custody hotline details

  4. added survey link

  5. First published.