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. We support families in England and Wales and you can find information about organisations who can support you in Scotland and Northern Ireland on our website.
Helpline opening hours
For help or advice please contact the Helpline on 0808 808 2003 (Freephone: including most mobiles). The Helpline is open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday. Please note the Helpline is closed on Bank Holidays.
Christmas opening hours
The Prisoners’ Families Helpline will be open on all days over Christmas, operating its usual hours, but will be closed on bank holidays. It will therefore be closed on the following dates:
- 25th December, Christmas Day
- 28th December (as Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the bank holiday is the following Monday)
- 1st January 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prisons
For the most up-to-date information, please read the latest government guidance about Coronavirus and prisons. The page will be updated as new advice becomes available, and includes a list of ways, other than visiting, for you to get in touch with prisoners during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Ministry of Justice and HMPPS have also published the answers to the most frequently asked questions online, which you may find helpful.
You can also follow us on Twitter where we will be posting live updates on visits as and when we can.
Find out what happens if a family member has been arrested
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.
When someone is sent to prison it can affect the whole family. For the prisoner, being separated from family and friends can be one of the most difficult aspects of their sentence. Here you can find information and advice on what to expect when you visit a prison, how to arrange a visit, what happens when a prisoner is transferred, advice about what you can take to a family member in prison as well as lots more information.
You can find useful information on all aspects of your loved one being released from prison on our website. You can information on release dates, Home Detention Curfew (HDC)/Tag, what it means to be released on license and information on being recalled to prison.
If your first language is not English there is a translation service available when using the Prisoners’ Families website. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page, on any page of the website and you will find the Google Translate toolbar where you can select from over 100 languages.
Free leaflets and posters
Leaflets and posters giving details of our services are now available. You can download the Leaflet or Poster online. Alternatively you can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to order posters and leaflets.
About the Helpline
The National Prisoners’ Families Helpline 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.