HMP Rochester: An In-Depth Look

HMP Rochester, located in Rochester, Kent, is a Category C men’s prison with a rich history dating back to the 19th century. Established in 1874, it originally functioned as Borstal Convict Prison, built to house convicts from nearby Chatham Prison. Over the years, it evolved, notably becoming the pioneering Borstal Institution in 1909, which revolutionized youth detention and rehabilitation practices.


HMP Rochester

The Evolution of HMP Rochester

HMP Rochester’s history began in August 1874 when it was opened as Borstal Convict Prison. Initially designed to accommodate convicts involved in public works, it soon became the first experimental juvenile reformatory in the UK. This institution’s success led to the term “borstal” becoming synonymous with juvenile detention centers across the British Empire. By 1983, the borstal system was abolished, and Rochester transitioned into a Youth Custody Centre​​​​.


Modern Role and Facilities

HMP Rochester now operates as a Category C prison, primarily housing adult male offenders. The prison is designed to ensure the security and rehabilitation of its inmates, offering a range of educational and vocational programs. These programs aim to equip inmates with skills for successful reintegration into society​​​​.

Location and Accessibility

HMP Rochester is situated on Fort Road, overlooking the Medway River in Kent. It is accessible via public transport, with the nearest railway station being Rochester. Visitors can reach the prison by taking a taxi or bus from the station​​.

Inmate Services and Rehabilitation

HMP Rochester places a strong emphasis on rehabilitation. Inmates have access to various educational programs, including basic literacy and numeracy courses, as well as vocational training in fields such as carpentry, catering, and stonemasonry. The prison also provides healthcare services, mental health support, and substance abuse programs to ensure the well-being of its inmates​​.

Recent Developments

In recent years, HMP Rochester has faced various challenges and changes. In 2017, plans were announced to close and redevelop the site, but these plans have faced delays. Despite this, the prison continues to operate, providing essential services to its inmates​​.

Visiting HMP Rochester

Visiting times at HMP Rochester are structured to accommodate family and friends, with specific guidelines in place for booking and conduct during visits. Visitors are required to bring photographic ID and proof of address. The prison offers a family-friendly environment to maintain strong family ties, which are crucial for the inmates’ rehabilitation process​


  1. What is HMP Rochester? HMP Rochester is a Category C men’s prison in Kent, England, focused on rehabilitating adult male offenders.

  2. What are the visiting hours for HMP Rochester? Visiting hours vary, with sessions available from Monday to Sunday. Specific times can be booked online or via phone.

  3. What educational programs are available at HMP Rochester? The prison offers basic education courses, vocational training, and various accredited programs to help inmates gain employable skills.

  4. Where is HMP Rochester located? HMP Rochester is located on Fort Road, Rochester, Kent, overlooking the Medway River.

  5. What type of prisoners does HMP Rochester house? It houses adult male offenders classified under Category C, requiring medium security.

  6. When was HMP Rochester established? The prison was established in 1874 as Borstal Convict Prison.

  7. What security measures are in place at HMP Rochester? As a Category C prison, HMP Rochester has medium security measures to ensure the safety of inmates and staff.

  8. What healthcare services are available at HMP Rochester? The prison has an on-site healthcare unit providing primary healthcare, mental health support, and substance abuse programs.

  9. How can I book a visit to HMP Rochester? Visits can be booked online or via phone through the prison’s official visiting line.

  10. What facilities does HMP Rochester offer for inmate rehabilitation? The prison provides educational programs, vocational training, work opportunities, and resettlement support to prepare inmates for reintegration into society.

Summary and Conclusion

HMP Rochester stands as a testament to the evolving nature of the UK’s correctional system. From its origins as a convict prison to its pioneering role as a borstal institution, and now as a modern Category C prison, it continues to focus on rehabilitation and reintegration. With comprehensive facilities and programs aimed at inmate welfare, HMP Rochester remains a significant part of the UK’s prison network.

For more detailed information, you can visit our other prison pages such as HMP Risley 


Also, see Prison Guide: HMP Rochester for further insights.