A lot of our work is responding to the immediate crises and need of those in prison overseas; the need for a survival grant so that someone can buy clean water, supplement meagre food rations in developing countries or buy a blanket to keep them warm; or requests for medical funds so that someone can access critical and life-saving medicine which means they can stay healthy and safe.

This is in contrast to the work we do offering longer term support so that people can maintain their mental wellbeing, helping them to deal with the stigma they face and to reduce the isolation they feel due to their circumstances. These things can take a huge toll on an individual whether it's the detainee, the friend, the parent or the spouse. 


Regions and countries

Last year, we provided assistance to 1,170 British people detained across 96 countries. The number of new overseas cases increased slightly from 2021, with a total of 295 new case last year. 

2022 saw an increase in the number of new cases in each region aside from Australasia. Europe was the busiest region, with an increase on the previous year. There was a marked increase in the number of new cases we saw in Spain in particular, with cases rising close to pre-pandemic levels. France, Germany, Italy and Hungary also saw an increase in new cases. The USA is still our largest country in terms of client numbers, with a total of 22 people supported last year and 36 new cases. This is a decrease in the numbers seen in previous years, however, which we believe is due to a new Biden administration policy which means foreign nationals are no longer subject to automatic deportation.

Overseas Survival Grant

Prison conditions can be brutal, inhumane, unhygienic and dangerous; placing prisoners at risk. In developing countries, access to food and drinking water is severely restricted. This is especially harsh for British prisoners who do not have family locally to bring food or money to buy water to the prison for them. 

Prisoners Abroad sends survival grants to Britons detained overseas with dangerously inadequate access to food, clean water and medicine, so they can buy what they need to survive. Last year Prisoners Abroad sent Survival Grants to 190 people in 42 countries with total payments of £59,552. In countries where people are eligible to receive our survival grants, we saw a jump of 50% in terms of new cases - with notable increases in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Contact, learning and wellbeing

In addition to emergency and medical grants for basic necessities, we also send magazines, book, language learning materials, and freepost envelopes to help sustain prisoners' mental health and wellbeing. In 2022, we sent out 2,053 magazines, 1,780 newspapers, and 560 books. We forwarded 702 pieces of mail to friends and family, and received 1,514 freepost envelopes to the Prisoners Abroad office.

Of the people who said they have received reading materials from Prisoners Abroad:

  • 82% said it helped them keep in touch with life in the UK;
  • 82% said it helped them stay in touch with current affairs;
  • 95% said it helped them keep their mind active;
  • 92% said it helped them relieve boredom.

"Newsletters and regular newspapers and magazines have kept my mind active for hours. Just hearing my name called and receiving mail really brightens up my week; it also makes me visible to staff and other inmates which helps to stop isolation." - A person detained in Spain.

Service evaluation feedback

Last year we received 54 completed overseas prisoner service evaluation surveys which were sent out 12 months after first contact.

Overall satisfaction rates remained high, with 92% of respondents saying they were ‘Very satisfied’ or ‘Quite satisfied’ with the service provided.

"Simply knowing that there are people out there who have never met me and yet genuinely care about me, my family and loved ones. I can't express how grateful I am for your kindness." - A person imprisoned in Poland, when asked what the most useful aspect of our service is.


Our Resettlement Service aims to prevent destitution and street homelessness among British citizens returning from overseas and help them to rebuild their lives here in the UK. 306 ex-prisoners were helped by the Resettlement Service last year. 

New resettlement cases by country

Of the 91 new returnees last year, 36 were from Australia and just 12 were from the USA. The latter is an unprecedentedly low number and around a quarter of what we might typically expect to see. A mentioned above, this is partly due to new policy by the Biden administration, but it is not clear whether this accounts entirely for the drop in numbers. 

Although there was a 38% decrease in returnees from Australia, this was partly due to the sharp increase in returnees the previous year. This was accounted for by the pandemic, with the Australian government 'catching up' on deportations in 2021 after severe ravel restrictions in 2020 than meant few could take place.

Spain overtook Thailand as the third largest group of resettlement cases, with 6 returnees.

 "I would have died if not for Prisoners Abroad. I arrived without a penny and they saved me and gave me a new chance at life." - A person formerly imprisoned in Bahrain.

Emergency accommodation

Many people arrive with no contacts or support networks in the UK. Their first, immediate need is often a roof over their heads. Due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing in London, our Resettlement service users spend weeks in emergency accommodation. In 2022, we paid £62,691 for emergency accommodation, plus a further £11,592 to help those returning from prison overseas secure a housing deposit. We know that providing safe accommodation is the first important step to helping people to rebuild their lives.

Helping vulnerable people

The reality of arriving in a new country and having to integrate into a society you are unfamiliar with is extremely challenging. This is even more challenging for the 35% of people who returned with substance abuse issues and 47% who returned with mental health problems. Last year, the number of people reporting these issues were higher than any previous year. Our resettlement team help people through the complex process of accessing physical and mental healthcare and social services.


The total numbers of family members and friends of prisoners assisted in 2022 fell slightly in comparison to the previous year to 1,356 people. However, Last year we created 508 family records, which is up 8% from the numbers in 2021.

In recent years, people detained in France have had a disproportionate number of family members attached to their contact records, with an average of five family contacts each. Prisoners detained in almost all other countries had an average of 2 to 3 family members logged.

Family support events

Last year we held 30 Family Support Groups. For some, there was a return to 'in person' meetings as well as online Zoom sessions that started up during the pandemic. In some locations, there was a hybrid mixture of both formats. Family Support and Information sessions also continued with eight sessions dedicated to a specific country or topic.

A total of 79 people attended at least one support group (a total of 125 attendances). The table below shows the breakdown of attendance by group.

Of the people who attended*:

  • 91% said it helped them share experiences with other families
  • 88% said it helped them feel less anxious
  • 92% said it helped them cope with the emotional impact of the imprisonment
  • 98% said it helped them feel less isolated

*of the 44 people who completed an evaluation survey

"There are very few in my social circle who know of my son's imprisonment, so it's a great relief to talk to people who understand as they are going through similar experiences. The group I'm with are amazingly supportive with advice." - The mother of a prisoner.

Casework and family online support

The largest group of family members geographically are those who live outside of the UK, who account for 23% of the family members we help. Families based in London and the South East make up 22% of the total.

Despite many being overseas, all family members can still call our Casework team and access our confidential Online Family Network. This is a members only social network where people affected by overseas imprisonment can discuss and share their knowledge and experience with each other, creating an online community of mutual respect and support.

Would you like to help support people on their return to the UK?

Yes, I'd like to help