Welcome to the National Offenders’ Families Helpline website

Families in England and Wales
This website has information for families on all aspects of the criminal justice system in England and Wales from arrest through to release.

Families in Scotland
From 1 June 2015 we will be supporting families in Scotland and over the next few weeks will be updating the website with the relevant information. Current information refers to England and Wales unless it specifies otherwise. Please visit the Scotland page for information if you are a family member in Scotland.

For help or advice please contact the Helpline on 0808 808 2003 (freephone: including most mobiles). The helpline is open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday. Please note the helpline is closed on Bank Holidays. 


offenders families helpline

Find out what happens if a family member has been arrested

You can find lots of information on this website about what to expect if a member of your family is arrested from what it means if they are charged, how bail works, to their rights in custody. The information provided on this website aims to help you understand what will happen next and explain the terms and processes you may come across in your journey through the Criminal Justice System. 

You can also find advice on what to expect if your family member has to go to court with support on how to find out which court they will go to, what to expect at the court as well as what happens when someone is remanded in custody.


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When someone is sent to prison it can affect the whole family. For the prisoner, being separated from family and friends can be one of the most difficult aspects of their sentence. Here you can find information and advice on what to expect when you visit a prison, how to arrange a visit, what happens when a prisoner is transferred, advice about what you can take to a family member in prison as well as lots more information. 



offenders families helpline translation serviceTranslation Service

If your first language is not English there is a translation service available when using the Offenders’ Families Helpline. Please ring the helpline and they will be able to assist.

Avez-vous besoin de soutenir ou les informations ? Appelez-nous.

هل تحتاج الى دعم او معلومات؟ اتصل بنا



Free leaflets and posters

Leaflets and posters giving details of our services are now available Download the leaflet or poster. Alternatively order paper copies of the leaflet and poster.