Prison helplines

Use our helplines to find out more information and advice for prisoners, their families and friends

The Howard League for Penal Reform

Tel: 020 7249 7373

The Howard League for Penal Reform is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. Too much money is spent on a penal system which doesn’t work, doesn’t make our communities safer and fails to reduce offending. We work with parliament and the media, with criminal justice professionals, students and members of the public, influencing debate and forcing through meaningful change to create safer communities.

The Prison Reform Trust

Offenders' family helpline: 0808 808 2003

Useful helplines and links

The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) is an independent UK charity working to create a just, humane and effective penal system. We do this by inquiring into the workings of the system; informing prisoners, staff and the wider public; and by influencing Parliament, government and officials towards reform.


Resettlement advice service: 020 7840 1212

We work with people who have either been arrested, are in prison or are serving community sentences, challenging their behaviour and addressing the factors that led them to crime. As well as tackling negative attitudes and substance misuse problems, we provide education and training that leads to employment. NACRO also works towards ensuring people with mental health problems are diverted from the criminal justice system.

Inside Time

This service is designed to help prisoners, their friends and family members, and anyone working in a prison related industry or service. The website has been designed with input from former prisoners. It includes information kindly supplied directly by each prison and the respective organisations whose service details are provided.

Prisoners Advice Service & PACT

Tel: 020 7253 3323 / 0845 430 8923

PAS provides legal advice and information to prisoners in England and Wales regarding their rights, the application of the Prison Rules and conditions of imprisonment. PAS takes up prisoners’ complaints about their treatment inside prison by providing free advice and assistance on an individual and confidential basis, taking legal action where appropriate. PAS runs the Prisoners’ Legal Rights group, which produces a quarterly bulletin entitled Prisoners’ Rights. Membership of the group includes prisoners, solicitors, barristers, academics and non-governmental organisations.

Women in Prison

Helpline: 0800 953 0125

Women in Prison assist women affected by the CJS with a variety of support issues. We give advice or direct you to other specialist agencies and organisations. We can help directly with employment, education and training advice and access to funding for educational courses & materials. Our service is women-only and open to all women affected by the CJS. Women can choose to attend, leave, or return to our services. Nothing is compulsory and we have no cut-off point. We work in all 13 women’s prisons in England, offering one-to-one support in person or via letter, telephone or email.

St. Giles Trust

Our Women's Services offer tailored support for women in prison and in the community looking to rebuild their lives and support their families. In 2011 we lanched the first freephone advice line for female offenders operating from HMP Send, Surrey. Known as The Call Centre, it is now connected to HMP Downview, HMP Holloway, HMP Eastwood Park and HMP Styal. Our aim is to get the centre connected to all 13 women's prisons across the country.

The Call Centre aims to offer an easily accessible signposting service to women to all the different services available to them. It can be confusing for women who do not know about them and increases the level of stress they encounter during their sentences. The Call Centre is staffed by female serving prisoners who train to become qualified advice workers through the project.


Pact is a national charity which supports people affected by imprisonment. We provide practical and emotional support to prisoners' children and families, and to prisoners themselves. Working at a number of prisons across the UK, we support the families of prisoners, run family-friendly visitors' centres outside prisons, children's play services in prison visits halls, and many more services.

Prisoners Families & Friends Service

Helpline: 0808 808 3444

Prisoners' Families and Friends Service (PFFS) provides practical help for prisoners' families. Our services are free, confidential and tailored specifically to your needs. There is a small staff team, although most of the services are provided by volunteers. Prisoners' families are actively involved in the planning and development of the service.

Action for Prisoners' Families

General enquiries: 020 8812 3600

Action for Prisoners' Families members all provide family support services - some provide services in courts, some to particular groups such as grandparents, others work in visitor centres or in prisons through first night in custody or family support work, others through helplines or by giving advice, publishing information or guidance. If you are a family member join up for free and get involved in Action for Prisoners' Families special interest groups and forums where you can talk to other family members about who or what has helped you.

Offenders' Families Helpline

Helpline: 0808 808 2003

On this website you'll find lots of information for families who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System as a result of a family member’s offending behaviour. We understand it can be a difficult and often distressing time. We offer information and support from arrest through to release and beyond.


Through no fault of their own, families of offenders can suffer great hardship and isolation, and we are here to help. AFFECT is an organisation for families and friends of offenders facing possible life or long prison sentences. Many members of AFFECT have experience of a close relative or friend that has been sent to prison. We provide a range of support services in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, West Sussex and Dorset areas and provide support to families nationally by telephone.

Amongst the services we offer are: face to face or telephone counselling, telephone support, group meetings and befriending, court support, training and presentations.

Families Outside (Scotland)

Helpline: 0500 83 93 83

Families Outside is the only national charity in Scotland that works solely to support the families of people involved in the criminal justice system. We work to mitigate the effects of imprisonment on children and families – and consequently to reduce the likelihood of reoffending – through support and information for families and for the people who work with them.

More information and advice on our helplines pages