Detainees in Prison

In addition to those held in dedicated immigration detention facilities, there are increasing numbers held in prison. These are foreign nationals who have served their criminal sentence and are due to be deported - and are therefore held post sentence under immigration powers. Statistics are not included in the UKBA figures, but we know from Freedom of Information requests by the Detention Advice Service that around 550 are held every month. A snapshot from the 8th October showing where these detainees are held is available here.


AVID also works with and for those held under immigration acts in mainstream prisons. Many of our member groups are already visiting in prisons:


Detention Action (visit London prisons on a needs basis)

Liverpool Prisons Visiting Group (HMP Liverpool, Walton; HMP Altcourse)

Lewes Group in support of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (Lewes Prison)

Manchester Immigration Detainee Support Team (Manchester Strangeways)


AVID research report: Visiting Foreign National Prisoners (Dr Mary Bosworth, University of Oxford)

In 2007 we were approached by the Independent Monitoring Board National Council and Prison Chaplains with a request to help support foreign national prisoners with spent sentences being held in main stream prisons under immigration acts (detainees). In 2009 a short term research project was completed by Dr Mary Bosworth of the University of Oxford. This project focused on the following:


  • To devise and implement a strategy for setting up or supporting volunteer visitors groups to support time-served foreign national prisoners
  • To provide training and support for visitors, working in partnership with relevant organisations
  • To set out proposals on how AVID should take forward the work supporting detained ex-foreign national prisoners


The report, available here, charts the progress of this project, and gives comprehensive background information on visiting ex-foreign national prisoners in prisons. 

The research unearthed some important issues, for example the need to set boundaries, issues of confidentiality, respect for privacy and a duty of care towards volunteers. These should all be considered before undertaking what may be a long term commitment in terms of visiting. AVID held workshops with various stakeholders, and these questions prompted lively and searching discussions from different professional angles, the outcomes of which are included in the report.

What next?

AVID is continuing to act as a ‘hub’ point for visiting schemes and to put people in touch with one another.  

Further Information

Further information on FNPs and the role of the visitor is available in the AVID report (see link above) – pages 45-49 of this report gives relevant organisations and contact details.

For further information on independent immigration advice:

Detention Advisory Service (DAS) - 020 7254 6888; e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;

Information on mental health and foreign national prisoners is available in a recent NACRO publication “Foreign National Offenders, Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System” (2010), available here.



Title Filter     Display # 
# Article Title
1 Post Sentence Foreign National Prisoners