Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas

Please note, those calling from prison must use 0207 482 4148.

There are over 1000 Irish men and women in custody in England and Wales, the second largest ethnic group in the prison system. Nearly half of this number is made up of Irish Travellers, many with mental health problems and literacy difficulties. We know there is pressure on the system and the treatment of prisoners varies from prison to prison.

Advice & information

Provide advice and information to prisoners and their family members

Focus attention

Focus public attention on issues affecting Irish prisoners

Seek justice

Seek justice and human rights for Irish prisoners and their families


Work with partner organisations caring for welfare of prisoners and families

There are many more people who would benefit from our services if we had the resources. We’d be grateful for any help you can offer either by becoming a volunteer or by donating.

You can also get the latest updates from our case workers and volunteers by joining our email list.

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Irish nationals in prison have specific cultural needs, especially Travellers who are rich in culture.

Lower literacy levels mean Travellers in prison experience difficulties with bureaucratic procedures. They can sometimes be discriminated against when it comes to prison jobs and are sometimes the victims of verbal abuse. Since they are also used to an outdoor lifestyle, being confined in a small cell for 23 hours a day can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing. We identified and made a series of recommendations in our Voices Unheard report based on the needs of Irish Travellers in prison.

Do you know an Irish prisoner experiencing problems in prison?

Perhaps someone in need of a friend or financial support to stay in touch with their family?

Please get in touch or let them know that they can use our service. Even one letter to a person feeling alone and losing hope can lift their spirit. Although we cannot deal with legal matters we may be able to signpost to services that are able to help. See the ICPO handbook for specific details about what we can and cannot help with.

Other useful information

Whether you are a prisoner, relative or friend, chaplain or prison department, share our ICPO information leaflet so that people know support is available.

  • visiting Irish prisoners and providing them and their families with advice and information
  • keeping in contact by letter
  • assisting families in Ireland to visit prisoners in England and Wales
  • offering pastoral support if requested
  • signposting to other services
  • researching, identifying and responding to prisoner needs
  • working closely with other organisations and prison departments caring for the welfare of Irish prisoners and their families

Our caseworkers are experienced in working closely with prisoners and handling specific queries. We also have a prison visitors scheme, which is effective and we're always looking for help with this part of our work.

Find out what our volunteers have to say about the rewarding work they do and get in touch if you would like to volunteer - you'd be making a huge difference.

Alternatively, please kindly make a donation. As you can imagine, facilitating visits to prisoners depends on funding so every little really does help. For example, £10 may help a prisoner access vital toiletries for their everyday needs, or enable them to purchase phone credit to contact their families.

Download an information leaflet
"Thank you for your letter - I sincerely thank you with all my heart as I found your letter full of concern. Wow! I must have read it 50 times and counting. It cheers me up and gives me a lift. It's crazy to feel that a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders thanks to a letter from a complete stranger who now seems like a friend."


"I don't have family, so the visit you made gave me a sense of belonging and, although I may be alone, I know there are people on the outside who care about me. Honest to God, that is making me look at my life a lot differently."


"Over the past 25 years, as many people turned away from prisoners and washed their hands of them, it was ICPO’s unexpected and reliable hand of friendship which let them know that they had an innate dignity that no system could overwhelm and no act of their own could obliterate."

Mary McAleese
Former President of Ireland and ICPO Founding Member