Short-notice referrals

This checklist is a guide to help you/us decide if Prisoners Abroad will be able to assist people with a short notice referral. People will often be known to Prisoners Abroad well before they enter immigration detention or are coming up for release, but increasingly we are seeing people referred to us at extremely short notice. This is problematic, most significantly because we know nothing about the person and any risks they might pose to themselves and others. We also have no opportunity to find out about their needs or manage their expectations of life in the UK. 

If someone comes to your attention at a late stage of their imprisonment or you find they are not signed up to Prisoners Abroad and are now in immigration detention, please read the following before passing on our information and check with us if you are unsure. 

Consular checklist

1. Can the person be considered a client of Prisoners Abroad?

  • We will not be able to assist those who have only been in prison for a few days. Our primary remit is to assist prisoners and their families through the sentence, and the impact of that sentence, helping them prepare for release and beyond. So we may not be able to help those who may only be overstaying a visitor’s visa, or who break parole conditions following a lengthy period of release.
  • We will not be able to take on cases who only come to our attention a few hours before return to the UK. This gives us no opportunity to find out anything of significance about the person.

2. What is needed to make a referral to Prisoners Abroad?

If a referral is to be very short notice, i.e. a few days or weeks before return, we will need to have as much information as possible about the person at the point that our authorisation form is filled in and sent to us, in order to determine if a resettlement service can be provided. We will also require a needs assessment – here are the forms:

Authorisation Form

Needs Assessment Form (Needs Assessment Explanatory Notes)

Referral Form

We also need anything you know about their:

Offence

  • Nature of current offending behaviour
  • Sentence length
  • Any known previous custodial sentences / offending behaviour

Wellbeing

  • Physical health needs including anything that affects ability to work / move around / travel alone to appointments
  • Emotional health needs including detail as above
  • Substance misuse including detail as above
  • Medical needs and whether a supply will be given to the person
  • Medical records and whether they will be returning with these if relevant?

Resettlement in the UK

  • Is a release /deportation date known yet?
  • Any family/friends in the UK and, if so, how they are able to assist?
  • Length of time living outside the UK
  • Planning to live in any particular area, or will they be returning homeless?
  • Finances: will they have any available?
  • [FOR AUSTRALIA ONLY] Is any provision being made by DIPB for accommodation &/ funds?

Passport status

  • Will they be returning on a full passport?
  • If not and you have to issue an Emergency Travel Document, please email Prisoners Abroad a certified copy ([email protected])

3. Please discuss with prospective service users how the referral will get to us; we come across people who have not understood they need to return the forms themselves – they assume FCO have provided us with information.

  • Does the person realistically have enough time to do it themselves?
  • Will you be able to fax/scan it on their behalf?
  • Do you think they have literacy issues that mean they will not be able to fill in the forms?
  • Can you assist them to complete them by asking them the questions?

4. Ask the person to state if they want Prisoners Abroad help or not, so you can record their response. This may help later on if someone says they weren’t told about Prisoners Abroad.

5. Please remember – we will not just take an authorisation form on its own; this is not sufficient for short-term referrals. People cannot just sign this and send it ‘just in case’ they may need us.

6. Please talk to us about anyone you feel unsure about referring. We know that sometimes people don’t come to your attention until late in the day, so we do not want to automatically exclude anyone (which is why we have not quoted a specific timeframe).

Quality of information is of the highest importance to Prisoners Abroad, as it assists in managing risk and people’s expectations of our service.

Thank you very much for your assistance – we could not do this without you.