Getting to Yarl’s Wood
From the South via Bedford: Take the M1 northbound as far as Junction 13. Then follow signs to Bedford on the A421 and take the A6 through Bedford (signposted towards Kettering). As you leave Bedford, you pass a large Sainsbury’s store on your left. Carry on straight along the new A6 (do not take the road through Clapham village), and continue through into Milton Ernest. In Milton Ernest, take the right hand turn opposite the Queen’s Head public house, onto Thurleigh Road. Continue along Thurleigh Road for approximatley five hundred yards, then turn right into Twinwoods business park. For sat-nav users, use MK44 1RF for Milton Ernest village, then continue up Thurleigh Road as per the directions.
From the North via Rushden: Take the M1 southbound as far as Junction 19, then take the A14 signposted Kettering/Felixstowe. Continue on the A14 for approximately 25 miles to Junction 10, signposted Bedford A6. Leave the A14 at Junction 10 and follow the A6 southwards towards Bedford until you reach the Sharnbrook Roundabout, about six miles south of Rushden. Turn left onto Bletsoe Road, which becomes Thurleigh Road after you go through Bletsoe. Continue along this road, following it round to the right and passing the turnings for Thurleigh itself and Thurleigh Business Park. Yarl’s Wood is in Twinwoods Business Park, which is the big entrance after that on the left. For sat-nav users, use MK44 1RF for Milton Ernest, turning left into Twinwoods business park approx 500 yards before the given destination (or follow directions above if you were directed via Milton Ernest).
From either direction, once you’re inside the business park, drive past the bus depot and Bodyflight to the end of the road, where you should turn left towards the Centre. Visitors Parking is signposted (round to the right as you approach the buildings).
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A free bus service linking Bedford’s train station to Yarl’s Wood is provided by Serco. The bus runs between 13.15hrs and 21.55hrs.
|Yarl’s Wood IRC||Bedford Train Station||Yarl’s Wood IRC|
A taxi to or from Bedford train station costs around £8-10.
How and When to Visit
Visiting sessions at YWIRC are 14.00hrs– 17.00hrs and 18.00hrs – 21.00hrs every day including weekends and bank holidays. The visitor centre Reception (VC1) is open from 13:30. All visits must be booked on the visit booking line on 01234 821167 or through the main switchboard 24 hours ahead of the visit. You will need to provide the following information when making a booking; (1) name & room number of person to be visited, (2) date of visit, (3) visiting session required, (4) names of all visitors attending and a contact telephone number. Dinner is served from 17.00hrs and detainees often find it quite difficult to gain access to the visits hall before 18.30.
Getting into the Visit Hall
Your first port of call is always the Visitors’ Reception. The first time you visit you will be asked for your name, address and phone number and details of who you are visiting. All visitors in your party will be requested to provide proof of identity, normally a passport or driving licence, and you may also be asked for proof of address. You will also have your photograph and a scan of your fingerprint taken. Be sure to tell the visitor centre staff that you are a befriender. At the Visitors Reception there is a list of things which are not allowed into YWIRC. Mostly these are common sense: mobile phones, keys, cameras and sharp items are forbidden. Your personal belongings must be left in one of the lockers and you will hold the key. NB – It is usually a good idea to phone the person you are visiting as soon as you arrive at Yarl’s Wood so that they know that you will be through in the visits hall in a few minutes. They should also get a message from centre staff telling them that you are there but t hese messages do not always get through. After checking-in you will be directed over to the Visits Hall (VC2). Here you will be searched by a Detention Custody Officer (DCO) in a similar fashion to being searched at an airport before boarding a plane.
Leaving Items for Detainees
If you are bringing in anything for a detainee, tell the reception staff who will book it in. Please be aware that there is usually a 25kg total weight limit on items that can be held by a detainee. It may be worth phoning in advance to check how much luggage the person you are visiting already has in storage and whether they will be allowed an additional amount. Arrangements can be made to discard any unwanted items which may be taking up the weight allowance in storage.
Booking in procedures are usually fairly quick, but it has been known to take up to 30-45 minutes, especially if there are a number of visitors booking in at once. Please allow time. Any items you have brought for a detainee will be taken from you and bagged at the Visitor Centre (VC1). For small items, you will be given a receipt to hand to the detainee during your visit and the items will be given to the detainee at the end of the visit. Large items will be taken straigh to the internal reception and will have to be collected by the detainee from there. Any prohibited items will not be released to them, but held in secure storage until they leave the centre. A rough guide to the sort of items considered to be prohibited is available at the Visits Centre. However, refusal of any item will be at the searching officer’s/manager’s discretion. Cash will also be taken and a receipt issued. Once again, pass this on to the person you are visiting; they will then be aware the money has been credited to their account.