Thorn Cross Prison

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

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.

Prisoners 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

Visiting times:

  • Friday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Saturday: 1:45pm to 3:45pm
  • Sunday: 9:45am to 11.45am and 1:45pm to 3:45pm

To book a visit please call the booking line: 01925 805018

Visits can be booked between:

  • Monday to Friday - 8:30am to 12pm.

Legal visiting times:

You can book a legal visit via the prisoner’s legal advisor.

Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9am to 12pm

Booking line: 01925 805018 Booking line opening times: 8:30am to 12pm Monday to Friday

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 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.

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

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.

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.

Prisoners can apply for them.

Keep in touch with someone at Thorn Cross

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

Secure video calls

To have a secure video call with someone in this prison you need to:

  • Download the Prison Video app
  • Create an account
  • Register all visitors
  • Add the prisoner to your contact list.

How to book a secure video call

Secure video calls at this prison can be requested by prisoners only.

You will receive a notification if a prisoner has requested a video call with you.

Read more about how it works

Phone calls

Prisoners do not have phones in their cells 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 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

Approved items such as clothing and books can be sent in by family during the first 28 days of prisoners coming to Thorn Cross. One clothing parcel per year can be sent in by families.

After that, they can receive one parcel a month. Prisoners can also buy their own goods using the catalogue system.

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.

Life at Thorn Cross

Thorn Cross is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where prisoners can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

Every prisoner at Thorn Cross has a right to feel safe. The staff are responsible for their safeguarding and welfare at all times.

For further information about what to do when you are worried or concerned about someone in prison visit the Prisoners’ Families helpline website.

Arrival and first night

When a prisoners first arrives at Thorn Cross, they will be shown their cell 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 prisoner 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 prisoners live at Thorn Cross in a mixture of single and double cells.

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

Education and work

Prisoners 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 prisoners 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 prisoners, 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).

Concerns, problems and complaints

In an emergency

Call 01925 805 100 if you think a prisoner is at immediate risk of harm. Ask for the Orderly Officer and explain that your concern is an emergency.

Contact category Phone number Additional information
Non-emergency 01925 805 257 Call this number if you have concerns about a prisoner’s safety or wellbeing which are serious but not life-threatening or complete a safer custody contact form on the Prisoners’ Families Helpline website.
Staff Integrity Hotline 0800 917 6877
(24 hours answering machine)
This number can be called anonymously. If you are concerned about a prisoner being bullied by a member of staff, you can use this number. As this line is managed separately from the prison, you can call this number anonymously.
Prisoners’ Families Helpline 0808 808 2003 The Prisoners’ Families Helpline can provide confidential support, advice and guidance.
Unwanted Prisoner Contact 0300 060 6699 If a prisoner is contacting you and you want them to stop, you can use the Unwanted Prisoner Contact Service.

You can complete the Stop prisoner contact online form, email or contact by phone.

Problems and complaints

If you have any other problem contact Thorn Cross.

Contact Thorn Cross

Governor: Robert Durgan

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

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

Published 21 April 2020
Last updated 1 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

  2. Added link to new safer custody information under Security and safeguarding.

  3. Updated visiting information: Reduced visit schedule and testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  4. Updated visiting information: Testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  5. Updated physical contact guidance

  6. New visiting times and booking information added.

  7. 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.

  8. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  9. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

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

  11. updated covid legal visit times

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

  13. Updated: HMP Thorn Cross visiting times and visiting procedure changes during coronavirus.

  14. added survey link

  15. First published.