Guidance

Rochester Prison

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

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Book and plan your visit to Rochester

Rochester 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.

How to book family and friends visits

Rochester 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.

Visits booking line: 01634 803 237
Booking line opening times: Monday to Friday 8:00am to 12:00pm Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Monday to Thursday: 2pm to 2:45pm and 3:30pm to 4:15pm
  • Friday: 9:15am to 10am and 10:45am to 11:30am

Legal visits are running Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12:00pm.

Entering Rochester

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.

Keep in touch with someone at Rochester

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

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

Prisoners 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 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

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.

Prisoners 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 prisoners 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 prisoner 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 9 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated physical contact guidance

  2. New visiting times and booking information added.

  3. Prison moved into National Stage 3 framework and is now preparing to open visits for family, friends and significant others. We will update this page with specific visiting information as soon as possible.

  4. Visits update

  5. Updated visit info

  6. Updated visit info

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

  8. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  9. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  10. Updated video call info

  11. added survey link

  12. First published.