Our tailored support ensures that prisoners are able to maintain a basic standard of living and physical health and we help to prevent cultural and linguistic exclusion.

Between 1st April 2022 and 31st March 2023, we provided assistance to a total of 1,170 prisoners detained in 96 countries around the world. The number of new overseas cases increased slightly from 2021, with a total of 295 new case last year. Interestingly, the number of new cases increased to some degree in every region except Australia and New Zealand. As per last year, we are still not seeing anything like the pre-pandemic scale of new cases, but there is some evidence to show that there is a slow return to 'normal' - at least in terms of numbers.

Sentence length

As per last year, although the number of new cases has remained low, the total number of people helped in prison overseas has not shrunk so much. This is in part due to the high average sentence length of overseas prisoners, which means that service users require long-term assistance. 

As of the beginning of April 2023, we are helping 739 people in prison overseas, including five people on a death sentence and 78 people on a life sentence.

From the data that we have on sentence length, 62% of clients have a sentence length of 10 years or longer.

In North America, this increases to 80%, compared to 40% in Europe, 54% in Australasia and 49% in the rest of the world.

Of the 361 people for whom we have a determinate sentence (i.e. not a life or death sentence), the average sentence in 14.5 years. This compares to just under two years as the average sentence length in England and Wales in 2022.

The Craig Feehan Fund

The Craig Feehan Fund is a survival grant sent to British prisoners detained in developing countries. In many parts of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Middle East and South and Central America, prison systems are unable to provide adequate food or other basic necessities. Prisoners Abroad sends a grant so that prisoners can buy what they need to survive.

Last year the Craig Feehan Fund was sent to 190 people in 42 countries with total payments totalling £59,552.The fund is named after one of the founders of Prisoners Abroad.

"I have not forgotten how you helped me in the past. With the money l received l bought bananas every day. Much better than eating rice with maggots. A huge thank you for that." - A person in prison in the Philippines.

The chart below shows the regions where the Craig Feehan Fund was needed last year.

There was a marked increase in new cases in countries eligible for our CFF fund - up 50% on the previous year with notable increases in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

"I have had word from the Embassy that you have sent some money again so I would like to thank you for that; it will be nice to drink clean water." - A prisoner in Indonesia. 

Vitamin Fund

Last year 70 people in 12 countries received 194 grants totalling £3,230 to purchase multi-vitamins to help them supplement their diet.

Medical Fund

Where prison authorities fail to provide treatment for health conditions, Prisoners Abroad provides Medical Fund payments so that British prisoners can get the help they need. Last year £5,284 of Medical Fund payments were made to overseas prisoners. The chart below shows the percentage of countries that receive payments from our Medical Fund. 

Payments from the Medical Fund included hospital support for a detainee in Thailand who has a long-term condition where his legs become swollen and create open wounds. A payment was also made to a client in the Philippines for an ultrasound on a lump he found in his neck. 

Other examples of items or conditions which were covered by the medical fund last year include: several pairs of eye glasses as well as treatment for glaucoma, anti-inflammatory medicine, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, treatment for diabetes (including insulin, glucose strips, and batteries for a glucometer), psychiatric medication for various conditions including depression and anxiety, painkillers for back problems, eye tests, and dental treatment including cleaning, dentures, fillings, veneers and hygiene work. 

Wellbeing fund

84 payments totalling £5,600 were made to 75 prisoners in 22 countries in order to purchase basic essentials.

A large part of this fund was used to pay for postage and printing costs for the Mindfulness booklet by RECOOP. Below are some of the multitude of quotes that we received from the feedback form which we sent out with the booklet.

"Very good booklet, a lot of insight wisdom and it teaches compassion. I learned the mindfulness technique 10 years ago. It helps control my stress, anxiety, and gives me peace and calmness."

"I have read through the booklet and I understand that one can be too busy to take notice of things around us. It's only when one stops and takes notice of what is going on that we get a different perspective on life. I will see if one of the staff can use the booklet to run a group for inmates."

In addition to this, grants funded the following items to help improve well-being:

  • 3 x ‘Distraction Packs’ by RECOOP – compilations of articles, puzzles and activities to keep the brain active. RECOOP allows to photocopy these packs as part of the purchase so we are able to distribute them to dozens of clients;
  • 30 x Yoga books;
  • 20 copies of RECOOP’s ‘On Track’ walking booklet which encourages cell-based exercise through a guided tour of the UK.

Contact, learning and well-being

Being in prison overseas can be a truly isolating experience: language barriers can mean prisoners are unable to communicate with anyone around them; English reading material may be scarce, and even writing home may not be possible unless you have money to buy stamps and stationery. We offer freepost envelopes to prisoners so that they are able to write home. 

"It's great to know these services exist and that Prisoners Abroad support us in so many amazing and comprehensive ways. I've received cards and newsletters and they literally pulled me out of a dark place - thank you!" - A person detained in the USA.

Over the course of last year Prisoners Abroad sent out 197 language materials, such as text books and dictionaries. We sent 2,053 magazines, 1,780 newspapers, 560 books, 1,454 Christmas cards and 688 birthday cards (one to every client whose date of birth we have on record). 1,514 freepost envelopes were returned to Prisoners Abroad last year with 539 overseas prisoners using this service. We also forwarded 702 pieces of mail to friends and family.