“Prison in the Community, Community in the prison”
Contact HACRO at The Mount

HACRO makes prison visits less stressful.

HACRO looks after the running of the Visitor Centre and Tea Bar just outside the front entrance to HMP The Mount where we offer hot and cold drinks as well as snacks. This is where the offenders’ families arrive to be checked in, which can be a lengthy procedure. We open an hour before visiting hours, as people come from all over the county (and beyond) for their visit. We make people feel welcome and we have been told that we are greatly appreciated by our visitors, some of whom have travelled many hours for their visit. We also offer a well-equipped play area for children.

Our staff and team of 14 volunteers aims to make visits easier and stress-free whenever possible by lending a friendly ear, explaining the ropes to new visitors or just by serving them a nice cup of tea with a genuine smile and a friendly chat.

We work together with the prison staff to make sure prison regulations are observed at all times but with the best interest of our visitors at heart.

Our impact

The visitor centre is a key part of HACRO’s work to reduce re-offending. Research shows that stronger connections with family reduces the risk of reoffending, yet many visitors find visiting difficult and stressful. HACRO:

  • supports better quality, less stressful prison visiting;
  • reduces the stigma of visiting friend and family in prison; and
  • creates greater feelings of connectedness, improving relationships between prisoners, friends and family.

98% of visitor’s surveyed in 2019-20 said that the centre was helpful or very helpful. Commenting about play facilities respondents said:
“my youngest son enjoys coming and it makes travelling the distance easier”, “keeps them calm” and allows “time for adults to talk”.

27,571 adults and 10,817 children used the Visitors’ Centre – that’s 38,388 visitors annually.

Visitors Centre

HACRO looks after the running of the Tea Bar just outside the front entrance to HMP The Mount.

We make people feel welcome and provide the best look and feel we can as this is where the offenders’ families arrive to be checked in which can be a lengthy procedure especially when there are young children involved.

We open an hour before visiting hours as people come from all over the county (and beyond) for their visit. They are often tired, stressed and anxious and welcome a friendly face and a hot drink or somewhere quiet to sit and reflect..

We have been told that we are greatly appreciated by our visitors some of whom have travelled many hours for their visit as we not only offer refreshments but also a well-equipped play area for children.

What happens on my visit?

 1) When you arrive at HMP The Mount, come straight to the visitor centre. HACRO will be there to greet you, talk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

2) Currently on arriving at the visitor centre, you will be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID test within the last 24 hours. This does not apply to children under 12. If you register your test online on the NHS website, you will receive a text or email that we are required to see.

3) HACRO staff will then give you a number. This ensures that you book in and go for your visit in order of arrival.

4) Officers will book you in. You need a form of photo ID. You will be provided with a locker to store your belongings. You must not take anything into the prison.

5)HACRO sell a small range of refreshments. Tea, coffee, cans, and water as well as crisps and chocolate bars.

6) About 10 to 15 minutes before your visit you will be called by number and taken over to the main prison for your visit.

7) You will be required to go through security which involves sniffer dogs and detection devices.

8) Once you have cleared security, you will be taken to the visits hall where you can start your visit.

9) Children under 11 can have unlimited contact with the prisoner, where as anyone over 11 years old can have contact at the beginning and end of a visit.

 Any further questions, please do contact HACRO on office@hacro.org.uk

 

Visits Hall

Once all security checks have been carried out the visitors are taken to the Visits Hall which is inside the prison. This is a long room with tables and seats for the offenders and their families and can be a daunting place for both adults and children. This space contains a café and a Play Area for children of prisoners on a visit.

Children’s Play Area – within the Prison

HACRO have been instrumental in running a Children’s Play area where qualified play supervisors provided by the Hertfordshire CDA and Volunteers recruited by HACRO work alongside each other.

This area has been specifically developed for children to play safely when their parents need to talk privately and this has been enhanced thanks to a grant by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, where we were able to set up a separate area for older children to use, with includes table football.

The number of children using the service continues to grow and as we were able to put on more sessions
so that 5,602 children used the play area in 2017-18.

In our latest Visitor Survey, 80% of the visitors who commented said the Play Area was good or very good – which is a strong endorsement of this venture.