The MCTC is an establishment that provides corrective training for those servicemen and women sentenced to periods of detention; it is not a prison.
The principal function of the MCTC is to detain personnel, both male and female, of the three Services and civilians subject to the Armed Forces Act, in accordance with the provisions of the Service Custody and Service of Relevant Sentences Rules 2009 (SCSRSR 09).
The MCTC takes servicemen and women who have been sentenced to periods of detention from 14 days to 2 years. There are 3 categories of detainees:
- Those from the RN, RM, British Army and RAF who are to remain in the Services after sentence and will serve their detention in A Company.
- Those from the RN, RM, British Army and RAF who are to be discharged after their sentence and will serve their detention in D Company.
- Those held in Military custody either awaiting the outcome of an investigation, or awaiting HM Prison or YOI placement.
The categories of detainees defined above are kept separate throughout their detention. Up to 264 detainees can be held at the MCTC. The MCTC has extensive Military Training facilities and an Education Wing that includes trade training.
The Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), in Colchester was formerly a wartime Prisoner of War Camp No 186 and is the only surviving Military Establishment following the closure of MCTC Stonecutters Island in Hong Kong in 1976.
The foundations for the rebuild of the MCTC, as it looks today, were laid in 1983 and the detainees moved into the new accommodation in 1986. In 1988, the official opening of MCTC Colchester was carried out by the then Secretary of State for Defence, The Right Hon George Younger MP.
Listed below are the answers to the most commonly asked questions by detainees on arrival at the MCTC. Please spare a moment or two to read them and if you have any questions that have not already been covered, please ask a member of staff. Do not keep your concerns to yourself.
On your arrival at the MCTC, you will be issued with an admission pack containing various items of toiletries, specific to your sex and tobacco if you are a smoker. You may bring with you your own toothbrush, razor and shower gel/shampoo.
You may be permitted to keep, in your accommodation, up to five photographs, which are deemed appropriate. Religious/Cultural items may be retained at the discretion of the Commandant.
Entitlement: Subject to the Commandant’s discretion, Service personnel detained at MCTC may receive one visit per week, on either a Saturday or Sunday commencing from the second weekend of detention. A visit comprises of one x 2 hour period on either day and a maximum of 4 adults may visit at any one time.
Visits for friends and relations take place on Saturdays and Sundays, 1000 - 1200 & 1430 - 1630hrs.
Unit representatives (managers) can visit at any time, however this must be authorised by the MCTC Adjutant.
Assisted Travel Scheme: It is possible that a close relative, normally next of kin or spouse (not partners or girlfriends) is eligible for financial assistance with their travel costs to visit you. They should be in receipt of Family Maintenance Grant (FAMGRANT) or Income Support or have an income of a similar level.
Flexibility: It is very much appreciated that your visitors may live a considerable distance from the MCTC and that the time and cost involved is difficult to justify coming for a single 2hr session. Flexibility exists for them to come for two or more visits on the same weekend if the circumstances can be justified and with the detainee's agreement.
Specialist help and advice for you and your family is available through Welfare. It is in your interest to address this issue at the earliest opportunity, as civilian accommodation is not as easy to obtain as you may think and, contrary to belief, Service personnel do not receive any preferential treatment.
Employment On Discharge From The Service
Help regarding employment and entitlement to benefits is available from the MCTC Education Centre. All D Company DUS will have the opportunity to attend an interview with an Advisor from Colchester Jobcentre Plus who will also arrange a further interview on your behalf at the nearest Jobcentre to where you are intending to live. You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this service.
Drug / Alcohol Agencies
MCTC has a confidential drug/alcohol and anger management counselling service that you may use whilst you are in detention. The counsellors are civilian and are able to assist you in contacting similar agencies when you leave the MCTC, both on the civilian and military network. Further details are available from the Welfare Department (01206 816751).
Stoppage of pay: When you are sentenced to detention your pay is stopped. The timing of the JPA monthly bank run may result in an overpayment of salary which is recoverable from future salary or for those discharged, under a repayment process through JPAC. You may submit a Pay Credit Check through your Coy to enquire if you have any monies owed.
Accommodation: If your family are living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) then rent will continue to be deducted through JPA. Where applicable, credit of SFA charges can be made through the parent unit direct to the JPA account by means of a Family Maintenance Grant (FamGrant). Generally, if the spouse is not working they will be eligible to Famgrant / Income Support and how much they receive is dependant on their work income. Famgrant / Income Support is not instantaneous and may take up to a fortnight to get paid.
Financial assistance/advice: If you have any financial worries (Banks, bills) you should initially inform Welfare who will direct you to the best agency to assist you with your problem. On a monthly basis, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) come to MCTC and give Presentations - you are able to obtain confidential advice and assistance from the CAB free of charge both at the MCTC and when you have left.
Fines: If you have an outstanding fine and a payment is due while you are at the MCTC, you should inform Welfare at the earliest opportunity.
Outstanding Court Appearances: If you are due to appear in Court while you are at the MCTC, you should inform a Member Of Staff or Welfare at the earliest opportunity.
Appeals: Most Departments hold a copy of the Appeals Booklet. If you require more detailed advice, or require to speak to your own or a solicitor, contact the Welfare dept.
Advice on any of the above matters can be obtained from the Welfare Department on 01206 816751.
Visits to Detainees at MCTC
Entitlement: Subject to the Commandant's discretion, Service personnel detained at MCTC may be visited once on a Two weekly basis, on either a Saturday or Sunday commencing from the second weekend of detention. A visit comprises of one two-hour period on either day and a maximum of four adults may visit at any one time. All visitors to the MCTC are subject to the following conditions.
Restrictions: Whilst every effort will be made to permit all four adults to attend visits at the same time, on occasion, circumstances arise and Duty Staff may request that the number of visitors is restricted to two persons. If this is the case and there are four persons in your party, you will be asked to visit on a rotational basis.
Items/gifts: A maximum of 2 magazines, of a suitable nature, may be brought to the visit for handover. "Suitable nature" is decreed to be any magazine not restricted for sale to over 18s.
Visit programme: Visits take place on Saturday and Sunday from 1000 - 1200 and 14:30 - 16:30.
Application to visit: Please complete a Visit Application Form and forward it to the Welfare Dept at MCTC. Application Forms for permits to visit MCTC must be clearly written and contain your address, the detainee's name, MCTC No and Company in block capitals. Only those persons named on the Application Form will be permitted to visit MCTC. Your cooperation in ensuring that your Application Form to visit arrives at MCTC seven days prior to the date of your visit would be very much appreciated. The latest time that visits Application Forms will be accepted is by midday Thursday for the coming weekend.
Confirmation of visit: Your Application to visit MCTC will be confirmed in writing, and exceptionally by telephone, by a member of the Welfare staff. Please do not proceed to the MCTC if your visit has not been confirmed, as it is very unlikely that entry will be authorised.
Late arrivals: It is very much appreciated that you may have to travel long distances to MCTC and for a number of reasons, arrive after the commencement of visits. If this is the case, a guarantee that you will be permitted the full two-hour visit cannot be given.
As you will no doubt appreciate, if visitors do not arrive on time the impact this has on the detainee and to this end, your cooperation in arriving on time, or if you know you are going to be late, keeping Duty Staff informed is very much appreciated. Useful telephone numbers in this instance are 01206 816757 (Main Gate) or 01206 816754 (Reception).
Further visits: If you intend to visit again, Application Forms can be obtained from the Duty Staff during your visit. You may either complete the Application Form and return it to the Duty Staff or take it away with you to complete at your convenience and then forward it to the MCTC as before.
Comments/feedback: To ensure that visitors to MCTC are provided with the best possible service your comments/feedback are very much appreciated. Feedback forms are available from either the Duty Staff or from the Welfare Office Manager.
Waiting area: For those visitors arriving early, a waiting room, with vending machines dispensing soft drinks, crisps and sweets is available and is located in close proximity to the car park.
Disabled persons: Whilst limited facilities exist for disabled persons, every effort will be made to assist with and during the visit to MCTC to make it as comfortable as possible. Disabled visitors are encouraged to contact the Welfare Office at their earliest convenience to discuss the visit and any concerns that one may have.
Children: Whilst at MCTC, parents/guardians remain responsible for their children. A TV and video is provided for children in the visits area, there is also a children’s play centre that can be utilised for Families Days (Child Play Days). Limited mother and toddler facilities are available where nappy changing can take place, however, changing mats are not provided. Parents/guardians are encouraged to liaise with Welfare staff prior to their visit if they have any concerns or require additional information.
Refreshments: Refreshment in the form of tea, biscuits and chilled water are available to visitors. A Coca Cola dispensing machine is located in Reception as well as a Tea and Coffee machine.
Travel & Accommodation
Travel: There are 4 trains an hour, which depart from London, Liverpool Street Station for COLCHESTER. A fast train takes 50 minutes and a slow train just over an hour.
Taxis are operating from the station and a fare of £8 is usually the cost. However, this amount does vary. Additional taxi information can be obtained from the Welfare Department.
Local buses run from the Railway Station but usually a change is required in the town, which will bring you to the end of Berechurch Hall Road. There is then a walk of about 1 mile, which takes about 20 minutes (more with children). Road directions to the MCTC.
Accommodation: Colchester town is located approximately 3 miles from the MCTC and there is an acute shortage of reasonably priced accommodation available. Visitors are advised to take this into consideration when formulating their travel plans. Further advice/ assistance is available from the Welfare Office.
Assisted travel: It is possible that some close relatives, normally next of kin, who are in receipt of Income Support or FAMGRANT may be entitled to financial assistance with travel/accommodation. Further details are available from the Welfare Office.
Point of contact: The initial point of contact at MCTC for all matters relating to visits is the Welfare Office Manager who is contactable Monday to Friday, 0900 - 1230 and 1330 - 1600 on:
Telephone: 01206 816751
Fax: 01206 816755
Outside normal working hours and Bank Holidays please contact the Main Gate on 01206 816757.
Mobile telephones: Please note that the use of mobile phones in the MCTC by visitors is prohibited and you are requested to ensure that mobile phones are switched off prior to entry into the Centre.
It cannot be emphasised enough that, if you have any concerns or require additional information concerning visits to MCTC please do not hesitate to contact the Welfare Office Manager at your earliest convenience whereupon, every effort will be made to assist you.
Your visit will be an invaluable contribution to the support network already in place at MCTC, and your continued cooperation in achieving this is extremely appreciated.
Conditions Governing Visits To Detainees Under Sentence (DUS) & Detainees Not Under Sentence (DNUS)
The attention is drawn to the notices displayed outside the Gate Lodge at the entrance to the MCTC which quote the relevant sections of the Prisons Act 1952 that are modified to apply to Service Establishments
1. The following regulations are to be observed by all visitors:
- Visitors are permitted to embrace the detainee they are visiting at the beginning and end of the visit. During the visit they are permitted to hold hands.
- Unaccompanied persons under the age of 16 years will not normally be granted permission to visit.
- No item of any sort may be brought into the MCTC for Detainees without prior arrangement. However, a maximum of 2 magazines of a suitable nature may be brought to the visit.
- Items being brought in for DUS/DNUS by previous arrangement are to be handed to the duty staff and not to DUS/DNUS.
- Smoking is not allowed within the confines of the MCTC inner custodial area.
- Only refreshments provided by the MCTC may be consumed during the visit. Alcohol of any kind is strictly forbidden within the precincts of the MCTC.
- Anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated within the MCTC and will result in the conditions outlined in paragraph 2 being applied.
- Identification must be produced to gain entry to MCTC. Please note, if visiting a person under the age of 18 PHOTOGRAPHIC IDENTIFICATION must be presented. The following forms of ID are acceptable:
- Driving Licence
- Utility Bill (with the same name & address as per the visitor’s pass)
2. The privilege of visiting relatives/friends is granted on the strict understanding that visitors abide by the above conditions. Failure to comply in full will result in the immediate termination of the visit and possible loss of subsequent visit privileges.
3. Detainees found to be in possession of any unauthorised or unlawful article are liable to punishment. Furthermore, if it is suspected that the articles were transmitted during a visit, all visit privileges may be withdrawn for the remainder of the sentence.
4. Action may be taken by the civilian authorities against anyone contravening these Rules, under Section 22 Criminal Justice Act 1961 amending the Prison Act 1952 as modified to apply to Military Establishments
Warning – Visitors to military establishments are liable to personal search and drug detection dogs work within this establishment.
Military Corrective Training Centre
Berechurch Hall Camp
Berechurch Hall Road, Colchester,
Essex CO2 9NU
Main Gate - 01206 816757
Welfare Team - 01206 816751
Padre - 01206 816752
RHQ / MPSCA - 01206 816795
Who are we?
We are people from the local community who have volunteered to be members of the Board. We are all civilians and have no other connection with the MCTC but one member of the Board should be a retired Officer from one of the Armed Services. We are an Independent Board appointed by the Secretary of State for Defence and we report to him.
What do we do?
We are here to:
- See that DUS/DNUS are properly and fairly treated.
- Inspect the premises, food, training, education and all other parts of the MCTC.
- Receive complaints and requests from DUS/DNUS in private.
How can you contact the Board?
If you need to speak to a member of the Board you can ask a member of staff to arrange this or you can ask to speak to us if you see us on site. We will try to see you within a week of you asking to see a member of the Board.
We would hope that you will have tried to resolve any problem before asking to see a member of the Board but know that sometimes you might want to speak to a Board Member first.
The Board Member will take details of your problem and will investigate and report back to you. The Board can only make enquiries about problems – it cannot make decisions but can recommend actions that may be taken