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Prisoners' Families Helpline

The National Prisoners' Families Helpline can support you if a family member is in contact with the criminal justice system. We provide advice and information on all aspects from what happens on arrest, visiting a prison to preparing for release. It is operated by Prison Advice and Care Trust under contract to Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service and provides information and support for families across England and Wales. All calls are free, from landlines and mobiles, and confidential.

Contacts details

Address:29 Peckham Road
Telephone number: 0800 808 2003

The core principles of the Offenders' Families Helpline

  • Free: There is no charge for the service we provide. Calls to the helpline are free from both landlines and all mobile phones.
  • Confidential: information provided to the helpline is treated as confidential and will only be shared with explicit consent from the caller, in line with our confidentiality policy.
  • Supportive: we provide families with support and information to enable them to do things for themselves. Whilst we are in a position to advocate for callers if needed, it is our policy to first provide the information necessary for families to help themselves.
  • Accessible: our service aims to be accessible to all. To enable this, a translation service is available for those whose first language is not English. We are able to provide information in written format by email or post.
  • Community focused: we encourage families to access local support services by signposting them to organisations within their geographical area.

You can find lots of information on this website about what to expect if a member of your family is arrested from what it means if they are charged, how bail works, to their rights in custody. The information provided on this website aims to help you understand what will happen next and explain the terms and processes you may come across in your journey through the Criminal Justice System. 

You can also find advice on what to expect if your family member has to go to court with support on how to find out which court they will go to, what to expect at the court as well as what happens when someone is remanded in custody.

How we can help

We can provide information, signposting to services and basic emotional support across all areas of the Criminal Justice System including:

  • Arrest and going to court
  • Financial Support
  • Housing Issues
  • How to book a prison visit
  • Life sentences - IPP (Imprisonment for the Public Protection)
  • Making a complaint
  • Prisoners' property and money
  • Prison Transfers
  • Probation , release and remand
  • Support Services in your community
  • What to tell the children

What do we not do

  • We do not provide counselling or long-term support.
  • We do not provide financial advice and assistance or legal advice
  • We are not a booking service for prison visits. We are not part of the prison service.
  • We are not able to provide callers with the location of an offender or make contact with offenders.
  • We do not encourage offenders to contact us. Prisons receiving in-house applications to add our number to a prisoner should refuse the request.
  • We do not accept referrals which involve us initiating contact with a family. We encourage families to contact us directly for support.
Based: Nationally based
  • Everyone, regardless of age

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