Whether you’re providing consular assistance to a prisoner who has been detained for a few months, or for a number of years, the question of returning to the UK is likely to arise at some stage. Prisoners Abroad has a resettlement programme to help people rebuild their life in the UK. Starting about one year prior to release, we encourage prisoners to think about the practical and emotional steps they can take to make the transition easier.

Does someone need to be registered with Prisoners Abroad before they return to the UK?

Yes. The resettlement team can only work with people who have signed up with Prisoners Abroad prior to their return. If the prisoner you are working with has not yet registered for Prisoners Abroad services, please visit our ‘arrest and imprisonment’ page to download our authorisation form and contact with family and friends form. If the prisoner is due to return in the next few days or weeks, please go to our ‘short notice referrals’ page for more information about what Prisoners Abroad will need to take on a new case at short notice.

What information does Prisoners Abroad need in order to provide a resettlement service?

When we’re aware that a person is due to be deported to the UK in the near future, our Needs Assessment Form helps us to have an idea of what the client's individual needs will be and prepare for their return. The more information we have about their circumstances, the more help and support our resettlement team will be able to provide. This set of explanatory notes to help complete the Needs Assessment Form should also be passed to the prisoner at the same time. 

Our consular referral form is for completion by consular staff when registered prisoners have indicated that they will be contacting Prisoners Abroad upon their return in order to receive resettlement support. Please complete and send this to us before the prisoner is deported.

This will help us to confirm someone’s situation but also to gather any missing information so we can manage risk on arrival. Since we are not a statutory agency and don’t have direct access to court papers and police reports, we rely on you to provide us with information about the offence and other risk factors.

Can Prisoners Abroad still work with a deported prisoner if they are being helped by family or friends on their return?

While the resettlement team works with many people who have lived outside of the UK for a number of years, and have no friends or family to turn to for support, some deported prisoners do have friends or family who are keen to help them readjust to life in the UK. Prisoners Abroad can provide a ‘long-arm’ resettlement service over the telephone or by email to those in this position. In this scenario, the resettlement team can provide advice, guidance and signposting over the phone and can write supporting letters to housing and benefits agencies if needed.

It helps Prisoners Abroad to know in advance if a deported prisoner will have family support on their return, or if they will have nowhere to go apart from Prisoners Abroad’s office.

What information can Prisoners Abroad send to prisoners to prepare them for their return?

It is really important that Prisoners Abroad is made aware when a prisoner is approaching the end of their sentence. We have a comprehensive handbook called ‘Coming Home’ that aims to inform prisoners about the welfare benefits system in the UK, housing, health and employment. It also looks at what will happen on their immediate return and provides vital information about Travel Care whose support they can seek at the airport. We will send this handbook to all Prisoners Abroad clients whose sentence is due to end soon, and ask that you make us aware if any of the prisoners you’re working with are in this situation. 

What if the prisoner is in denial about returning to the UK?

Prisoners Abroad has produced our Plan B leaflet which highlights the importance of prisoners putting some thought and effort into preparing for their release. This is especially targeted at prisoners who, prior to their arrest, were long-term residents of the country where they are detained. Some may be in denial about the possibility of facing deportation from a country that they consider to be their home; doing nothing in this situation will place them at a huge disadvantage when they arrive in the UK. This leaflet talks through some of the basics that they need to consider. Prisoners Abroad can send hard copies of this to your Embassy/Consulate if you contact the team to request this.