Frequently asked questions

This is the first time my family member/friend has been in prison - where can I get some general information on prison life?

The Prisoner Information Booklets on the right-hand side of this page contain general information on what to expect in prison.

You can also find information on our 'About prison' page.

I do not know which prison my family member/friend is in - how can I find out?

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

You can also find information on our 'Visiting' page

Where can I get information and advice about visiting a family member/friend in prison?

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

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

Can I send property or money in to my family member/friend?

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 Offender Families Helpline website

How can my family member/friend get funding for an educational course in prison?

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.

My family member/friend is due for release soon - where can they get information about housing or employment?

NACRO's Resettlement Advice 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 Resettlement Plus Line:  0800 0181 259

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 Bureaux (CABs) can offer advice on many areas including housing and benefits. To locate your nearest CAB office, click here

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

My family member/friend wants to transfer to a prison closer to home - is this possible and if so how can they do this?

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 Offenders Families Helpline website.

My family member/friend is not receiving the medical treatment they need - what can they do?

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.

I am worried about my family member/friends mental health - what can I do? 

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.

Can Prison Reform Trust help my family member/friend in prison?

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.

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