For the latest information on the booking in process for visits during this pandemic please see here.
The Ormiston Families team is based in a bright and welcoming visitors’ centre just outside the perimeter walls of the prison. We provide support, information and a personal welcome to help visitors access the available services.
How do I book a visit to HMP Chelmsford’s Visitors’ Centre?
All visitors to HMP Chelmsford must book their visit in advance. Visits can be booked online here or by calling the visits booking line on 01245 552265 or 01245 552240. This line is open Monday to Friday 08:15 – 11:00 and 12:30 – 15:30. There is no booking line service on Bank Holidays.
- Monday – Thursday: 14:15 – 15:45
- Saturday: 9:30-11:00 and 14:15 – 15:45
- Sunday: 14:15 – 15:45
You cannot arrive later than 14:55 on afternoon visits and 09:55 morning visits as you will NOT be permitted entry.
Remember to bring ID with you!
How do I get to HMP Chelmsford Visitors’ Centre?
200 Springfield Road
You can get to HMP Chelmsford’s Visitors’ Centre by car or public transport.
There is disabled access to the centre and the prison. Please inform staff of any additional needs prior to arrival. You can contact the visitors’ centre on 01245 552452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two disabled parking bays available outside the prison entrance for visitors. These can only be used by visitors who have an official Blue Badge disabled parking permit.
For other visitors, the nearest public car park is Riverside Ice and Leisure on Victoria Road, a five-minute walk from the prison.
By public transport
Train: Direct trains from Liverpool Street arrive at Chelmsford train station. There are taxis at the station or it is a 15-minute walk.
Walk: 15-minute walk from the railway station, follow the signposts.
Bus: you can catch a number 54 or 56 to and from the prison to Chelmsford railway station.
Local taxis: Fairway 01245 355 555 Happicabs 01245 443 443 Taxi Bus 01245 350 350.
Frequently asked questions about visiting HMP Chelmsford Visitors’ Centre
What am I allowed to bring with me on visits?
You will need to bring ID. Acceptable forms of ID for adults are: passport, driving licence, EC ID card, senior citizen public transport pass or citizen card.
If you cannot provide one of the above then you will need TWO different items from the following list:
- Birth/marriage certificate (showing current name)
- Bank statement (dated within the last three months)
- Young person’s proof of age card
- Utility bills (dates within the last six months)
- Medical card
- Paper driving licence.
The prison does not accept letters as a form of ID including police, benefits, solicitor, etc. Student ID cards are also not an acceptable form of ID.
You are allowed to bring £20 per Adult (without Children) and £30 per adult (with children) IN COINS ONLY you can change money at the tea bar in the visitors centre.
Visitors Dress Code: All visitors must be appropriately dressed, the visits hall is a family friendly environment. It is not acceptable for visitors to show excessive flesh. There is to be no ripped clothing (ripped jeans). Skirts/dresses/shorts should be just above the knee or longer (no miniskirts or very short shorts). Upper garments should not be low cut and have no thin straps, males not to wear vest tops. No football tops/sports kits. No hooded tops or camouflaged clothing. Please note that you can only wear wedding or engagement rings and small studs inside the prison.
- If you do not meet the dress code you will be refused entry.
- If you do not produce ID you will be refused entry.
- Anything else you bring with you will have to be stored in your locker until you leave.
What happens when I arrive at the Visitors’ Centre?
When you arrive at HMP Chelmsford, you will need to check in with our staff in the visitors’ centre, which is at the end of the main car park. Here you will be greeted by one of our volunteers, who will explain the procedure. Visitor centre staff will check your ID and sign you in for your visit.
Once checked in you can wait in the visitors’ centre until your number is called. Then you can make your way to the gate area.
All mobile phones and unauthorised items must be left in the visitors’ centre. There are secure lockers available for this with a £1 deposit.
Once inside the gate area, you will be asked again if you are carrying any unauthorised items. Before you are allowed through, a member of staff will search you. A sniffer dog will be there too. Once they know that you have not got anything unauthorised with you, you can enter the visits hall. You must then report to the Prison Officer at the desk.
What’s it like inside the visits hall?
Everyone is very friendly and helpful. There is a snacks bar providing hot and cold drinks and a variety of snacks and sweets. There is also a children’s play area, where activities are provided and the children can dip in and out of the area – but no food is allowed Although the area is staffed by volunteers, parents are responsible for their children at all times.
What if I feel worried about a prisoner?
Prison Service’ and Ormiston Families’ staff understand that prison can be a very difficult time, for both prisoners and their families. If you have any concerns about a prisoner at HMP Chelmsford, feel free to contact the Safer Custody team on 01245 552297. This is a confidential answer machine helpline for prisoners’ families and friends to make the prison aware of any concerns regarding bullying, intimidation, suicide or self-harm. When leaving a message be sure to give the name and prison number of the person you are concerned about. These messages are checked daily. Please note: if your concerns are urgent, please speak to staff in the visitor’s centre or call the main switchboard on 01245 552 000.
- Children’s visits – special visits for fathers/step fathers or brothers (for young offenders who lived at home before going into prison) to spend valuable time playing and talking to their children (or brothers and sisters in the case of young offenders). One adult per family can accompany the children. Children must be 16 years old and under. The prisoner needs to apply for these visits.
- Family days – Are special visits for enhanced prisoners, these are designed for the whole family to help maintain family ties and sustain good relationships, the prisoner needs to apply for these visits.
- Parenting course – for dads or stepdads in prison.
- Play area – an area for children to play in whilst on their visit.
Concerns for a prisoner’s social care needs
If you have any concerns around the social care needs of someone in HMP Chelmsford, referrals can be made to Full Circle at FullCircleChelmsford@justice.gov.uk. A prisoner may be eligible for care act support if they have a physical disability, mental health need or a learning disability which means they need support with any of the following tasks; they need help getting washed, dressed, out of bed or using the toilet, they need help eating or collecting meals, or they are unable to get around the prison or in and out of their cell.