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Information and Advice

This section contains information for people in prison about what to expect, rules and procedures in prison, and how they should be treated.

If a member of your family or a friend is in prison you can print information which they might need to send to them. There is a button at the top of each page to a print friendly version of our advice guides.

Alternatively, you could send them a copy of our order form which they can use to request advice guides and booklets that will be most useful to them.

Who can help?

In addition to our own Advice and Information Helpline, this section includes a selection of the many organisations and contacts which may be able to help.

Click here for details

Search our advice guides for what you need help with

Frequently asked questions

  • The Prisoner Information Book contains general information on what to expect in prison.

    We also have a guide for women entering prison for the first time.

  • If you don’t know where the person you want to visit is, you can email the Prisoner Location Service who may be able to location your loved one—subject to conditions.

  • You can telephone the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 who will be able to give you advice about visits.

    You can also find information on our ‘Visiting someone in prison’ page which includes advice on how to book visits, what to expect and how to get financial assistance for visits.

  • For information about sending property or money into a family member or friend in prison please click here for the detailed explanation provided on the Prisoners’ Families Helpline website.

  • Unfortunately the Prison Reform Trust doesn’t provide funding, however there are a number of charitable organisations that may help. You can download their details here.

  • NACRO’s Criminal Record Support Service can offer resettlement information and advice both before and after release. It also runs housing projects and employment training schemes in locations across England and Wales. NACRO Resettlement Plus Line is a free-phone helpline for prisoners, their families and friends.

    NACRO: 

    Shelter has an online directory of housing advice services across the UK. To find a centre close to you click here.

    Shelter Housing Advice Line: 0808 800 4444. The lines are open seven days a week from 8am to midnight.

    Citizens Advice can offer advice on many areas including housing and benefits. To locate your nearest office click here.

    Please see our list of resettlement services on our Who can help? page.

  • A person can be held in any prison and has no legal right to transfer. However if someone does want a transfer they can ask for this through the request and complaints system. They should gives the reasons and as much detail as possible for this request (e.g. to be closer to my family so that they are able to visit).

    Click here for more useful information on transfers from the Prisoners’ Families Helpline website.

  • All prisoners have the right to access the same level of health care that they would receive in the community. If they feel this is not happening, they should put in a complaint to the Head of Healthcare at their prison. They can do this through the request/complaint system. They should clearly state the problem and what they would like done about it.

    If the response is unsatisfactory, they can complain to the local Primary Care Trust. The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service can assist with this.

  • If you are worried about the mental health of your family member or friend, you may wish to share this with the prison. You could write or call and ask to speak to the ‘safer custody’ team in the prison and let them know about your concerns. You could also share this with the healthcare team.

    Please be aware that it is likely that staff are unlikely to be able to share much information with you, if any, due to confidentiality issues. It may help to get written consent from your family member/friend giving them permission to share information with you.

  • Our Advice and Information service helps prisoners by informing how they should be treated, what the prison rules and instructions say are and what they can do if they think the prison is doing something wrong.

    We are a small service and we only get involved ourselves in a minority of cases that are within our remit. In these few cases we would do this through contact and consent of the person in prison. We therefore encourage family members and friends to provide our details to the person in prison and advise them to contact us directly.

    Please note, we are not solicitors and so cannot give legal advice. We do not give long term support or counselling.

    For details of other organisations which provide support visit our ‘Who can help?’ page.

Not found the answer you were looking for?

If you need any more information on any of the above areas please contact us.

For details of other organisations which provide support visit ‘Who can help?’.