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 prison is now offering visits for family, friends and significant others, in line with stage 2 of the National Framework for Prisons.
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.
We are now allowing physical contact at social visits following a negative rapid test. Find out more here.
There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them.
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 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. Prisoners 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
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
You can also book your visit by emailing SocialVisits.Elmley@justice.gov.uk
- Monday to Friday: 2pm to 3pm
How to book legal and professional visits
Legal visits can only be booked through email: Legalvisits.email@example.com
Legal visiting times
- Monday to Friday: 9am to 11:30am
Getting to Elmley
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.
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. 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.
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.
There are currently no family days being run.
Keep in touch with someone at Elmley
There are several ways you can keep in touch with someone during their time 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.
Prisoners 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, depending on the rules at Elmley.
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 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
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.
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.
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 someone 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 1,150 prisoners.
There are units for vulnerable prisoners, foreign nationals, first night prisoners, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and mixed units.
Education and work
At Elmley, all prisoners 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 prisoners to learn how to play, create, mix and manage music.
First-aid, diet, nutrition and personal training courses are offered in the gym. Prisoners 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 prisoners 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 prisoners 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.
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 prisoners 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 prisoner 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.
Governor: Paul Woods
Telephone (24 hours): 01795 802 000
Fax: 01795 802 001
Find out about call charges
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
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