Thorn Cross Prison

Thorn Cross is a men’s open prison and young offender institution (YOI) in Warrington, Cheshire.

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.

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

Book and plan your visit to Thorn Cross

To visit someone in Thorn Cross you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • book your visit 3-4 days in advance
  • have the required ID with you when you go

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

Residents can have one visit a week or more if there is availability.

Contact Thorn Cross 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 Thorn Cross
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

How to book family and friends visits

You can book your visit online.

You can also book by telephone.

Booking line: 01925 805 018
Monday to Friday, 1:30pm to 3pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday: 5:45pm to 7:45pm
  • Wednesday: 5:45pm to 7:45pm
  • Friday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Saturday: 9:45am to 11:45am, 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Sunday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm

You must book legal visits by telephone.

Booking line: 01925 805 018
Monday to Friday, 1:30pm to 3pm
Find out about call charges

Visiting times are on Tuesday from 9am to midday.

Getting to Thorn Cross

Find Thorn Cross on a map

Thorn Cross is about 5 miles from Warrington Central and Warrington Bank Quay railway stations. From the stations, use buses going to Appleton Thorn or take a taxi.

To plan your journey by public transport:

There is a visitors car park opposite the prison, including space for Blue Badge holders.

Entering Thorn Cross

All visitors aged 16 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

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

Visitors should dress sensibly. You may be turned away if you are wearing items like vests, low-cut tops, high-cut shorts or dresses.

Thorn Cross operates a cashless card system to buy food and drinks. No money can be taken into the visiting area.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Thorn Cross. 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.

Visiting facilities

There is a visitors centre run by the Partners of Prisoners (POPS) charity. Family and friends can relax, buy refreshments and get advice and support from the staff. There is a play area for children.

Telephone: 01925 805 242
Find out about call charges

Family days

Thorn Cross holds family days which are longer and more relaxed than normal visits.

Residents can apply for them.

Keep in touch with someone at Thorn Cross

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

Phone calls

Residents do not have phones in their rooms 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.


You can send emails to someone in Thorn Cross using the Email a Prisoner service.


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 Thorn Cross.

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

Approved items such as clothing and books can be sent in by family during the first 28 days of men coming to Thorn Cross.

After that, they can receive one parcel a month.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

Men can also buy their own goods using the catalogue system.

Life at Thorn Cross

Thorn Cross 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 Thorn Cross 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 Warrington Safeguarding Adults Board.

Arrival and first night

When a resident first arrives at Thorn Cross, they will be shown their room and then 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 Thorn Cross 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.


Around 400 men live at Thorn Cross in a mixture of single and double rooms.

Residents have access to small kitchens, a full gymnasium, sports hall, library and chapel.

Education and work

Men at Thorn Cross can study or take workshops and training courses in a range of subjects, including construction trades, recycling, horticulture, hospitality, catering and rail construction.

Thorn Cross has a number of partnerships with local and national employers, including Timpsons and Max Speilmann, which offer work placements before and after release.

Temporary release

All men at Thorn Cross are eligible for release on temporary licence (ROTL).

It is important to keep close contact with family for good rehabilitation. It also helps men, who go out to work on day release, enter back into the community.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Thorn Cross

There is help and support for all families and friends of someone in prison provided by the charity, Partners of Prisoners (POPS).

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem contact Thorn Cross. If you cannot resolve the problem directly, you can make a complaint to HM Prison and Probation Service.

Contact Thorn Cross

Governor: Dan Cooper

Telephone: 01925 805 100
Monday to Friday, 7am to 8pm
Weekends, 7am to 5pm
The gate lodge picks up at any other times
Find out about call charges

Fax: 01925 805 101


HMP/YOI Thorn Cross
Arley Road
Appleton Thorn

See map

Safer custody hotline

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

Telephone: 01925 805 050
Find out about call charges

In an emergency, call the orderly officer on the main prison number.

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

Published 21 April 2020
Last updated 5 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. added survey link

  2. First published.