Guidance

Rochester Prison

Rochester is a prison and young offender institution for men over 18 in Rochester, Kent.

Prison visits are temporarily suspended following instructions for people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We will update here as soon as this changes. 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.

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Book and plan your visit to Rochester

To visit someone in Rochester you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit in advance, but if slots are available you can book on the day
  • have the required ID with you when you go

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

There may be a limit to the number of visits a person can have. You can check this with Rochester.

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 Rochester
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

You can book your visit online.

You can also book by telephone and ask any other questions about visiting.

Booking line: 01634 803 237
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 11:30am
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Thursday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Friday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Saturday: 2pm to 4pm
  • Sunday: 2pm to 4pm

Email: legalvisits.rochester@justice.gov.uk

You can also book by telephone.

Booking line: 01634 803 237
Monday to Friday, 1pm to 3pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times are Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 11:15am.

Getting to Rochester

Find Rochester on a map

The closest railway station is Rochester. It is around 2 miles to Rochester Prison.

To plan your journey by public transport:

You can park in the main car park or the visitor car park. There are Blue Badge spaces outside the visitors centre.

Entering Rochester

All visitors aged 16 and older need to bring one item from list A and one item from list B. Or you must bring 3 items from list B.

List A

  • valid passport
  • photo driving licence with correct address
  • national identity card (UK issued)
  • senior citizen’s public transport pass (issued by local authority)
  • HM forces/government photo ID card
  • European Community identity card

List B

  • driving licence with correct address (paper copy)
  • employer photo ID card or student ID card
  • young person’s proof of age card
  • vehicle registration certificate (DVLA V5C)
  • national insurance card
  • valid old-style full UK driving licence (can not be used with photo driving licence)
  • valid disabled person’s Blue Badge parking permit

The following must be original documents issued within 6 weeks of the birth, marriage, adoption or naturalisation:

  • birth certificate (British national only)
  • UK marriage certificate
  • UK adoption certificate
  • UK certificate of naturalisation or registration

The following must be dated within the last 3 months:

  • gas/electric/water bill
  • landline telephone bill (not mobile)
  • council tax bill/statement
  • catalogue bill or store card bill/statement
  • bank or building society statement
  • addressed payslip
  • TV licence
  • credit card bill/statement
  • NHS hospital appointment letter
  • official letter confirming entitlement to housing benefit, council tax benefit, tax credit or state pension
  • official letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Job Centre, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or local authority
  • child benefit documentation or child tax credit documentation
  • valid NHS card

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

Rochester 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). You can ask for a copy of the local dress code policy before you come.

Each adult visitor is allowed to take in a maximum of £20 per adult and £10 per child. The money can be used to buy food and drink from the vending machine in the visiting hall.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Rochester. You will have to leave personal items, such as keys and wallets in lockable lockers. Pushchairs and car seats are allowed into the prison.

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 visitor centre opens from 11am on Mondays to Fridays, from 8am to midday on Saturdays and from midday on Sundays.

It is run by Spurgeons which offers support and information and provides free refreshments and play activities in the visitors centre.

It also provides activities to encourage children to interact with their fathers in the visiting hall.

Family days

On Mondays, Spurgeons arranges family days and men can apply to take part. Families who have not had a visit in 3 months are given priority.

On the day, families have lunch together in the visiting hall and then go to the gym for activities.

Keep in touch with someone at Rochester

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

Phone calls

Residents have phones in their rooms, as well as access to phones in communal areas. They can only make outgoing calls so they will always have to call you. They have to 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.

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 Rochester and get replies from them using the Email a Prisoner service. You can also attach photos and they will be printed off and handed out.

Letters

You can write at any time.

Include the person’s name and prisoner number 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 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

You can send clothes and books in the post into Rochester. Residents with standard or enhanced privileges can receive a clothing parcel once every 6 months. Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel. All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Other items must be ordered by the residents using an approved catalogues or from the ‘canteen’.

Life at Rochester

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

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

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Rochester, 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.

Induction

Each person who arrives at Rochester 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

Rochester holds around 695 men in single and double rooms, some of which have showers.

Education and work

As a resettlement prison, Rochester offers a wide range of vocational training, work opportunities and offending behaviour programmes.

Vocational training includes painting and decorating, brick laying, carpentry, stone masonry, plastering, tiling, welding, construction skills, catering and gym courses.

There are educational opportunities, including English and maths, IT, mentoring and distance learning.

Temporary release

Release on temporary licence (ROTL) allows men that meet its criteria to visit and stay over with family or partners. Once men are in their last 6 months, they can apply. It happens once a month, starting with 2 nights and going up to 4.

Men can be released on ‘special purpose licence’ in exceptional circumstances, if the criteria are met.

‘Resettlement day release’ is also considered for anyone who wants access to training and education.

There is rigorous risk assessment prior to any period of release being granted.

Organisations Rochester works with

Rochester also works with:

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Rochester

Spurgeons offer family support for loved ones of people at Rochester.

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem, please write to the correspondence/complaints department at the main address.

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 Rochester in response to independent inspections.

Contact Rochester

Governor: Dean Gardiner

Telephone: 01634 803 100
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm, with an external switchboard at other times
Fax: 01634 803 101
Find out about call charges

Email: businesshubrochester@justice.gov.uk

Replies are usually posted out in 2-3 weeks.

Address

HMP/YOI Rochester
1 Fort Road
Rochester
Kent
ME1 3QS

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Rochester, call the safer custody hotline.

Telephone: 01634 803 268
Find out about call charges

Leave your name, telephone number, the reason for your call and the name and prisoner number of the man you are worried about. You should be called back within 24 hours.

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

Published 11 March 2020
Last updated 5 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. added survey link

  2. First published.