Foreign Nationals in Prison

Good Practice Manual for Working with Foreign Prisoners

The Council of Europe’s Recommendations concerning foreign prisoners CM/Rec (2012) 12 (https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1989353&Site=CM) were adopted to help national prison services focus on the special needs of foreign prisoners and to think of ways to provide such prisoners with opportunities equal to those of other prisoners. In particular, it seeks to improve the regime foreign prisoners are subject to, alleviate their isolation and facilitate their treatment with a view to their social reintegration. These Recommendations ask that Governments of Member States be guided in their legislation, polices and practice by the rules contained in these Recommendations.

To promote the implementation of these Recommendations, the joint EuroPris & CEP Foreign Nationals in Prison and Probation Expert Group has collected examples of how European prison and probation services are addressing the needs of foreign prisoners and foreign offenders in policy, practice and principle based on the CoE Recommendations. The examples of prison and probation practice in the  ‘Good Practice Manual for working with Foreign Prisoners’, are recorded next to the relevant CoE Recommendation, with a brief description of the initiative, information on whether it is a national, regional or local initiative, the legal basis and budgetary implications of the initiative and contact details to obtain further information. Should you know of any initiatives which could be included in the Manual, please provide information on the form ‘Examples of Good Practice with foreign prisoners’, send it to us and it will be placed into the Manual when up-dated.

You may find the Good Practice Manual and its materials here.

Please direct any comments or queries to the Coordinator of the Foreign Nationals in Prison and Probation Expert Group, nickhammond@europris.org


Workshop on Foreign National Offenders, 24-25 November 2016, Bruges, Belgium

Foreign national offenders pose particular challenges to those who are working with them in the custodial and community setting. This workshop attracted over 60 participants from prison, probation and NGOs from 21 European countries, to hear presentations and engage in discussion and debate on this increasingly important area of criminal justice policy and practice. The Workshop was organised in cooperation with the Belgium Prison Service, by EuroPris and CEP Foreign National Prisoners Expert Group from which six of its members provided key presentations. The purpose of the Workshop was to promote better national regulation and best practices for foreign national prisoners in Europe through contributing to a greater awareness of FNP issues and through improving the management, rehabilitation and resettlement needs of FNPs. The aim of the Workshop was to:

  • promote the welfare and interests of European nationals who are imprisoned outside their country of residence, in order to facilitate their social reintegration
  • promote co-operation and the exchange of information between national and international agencies and groups which support prisoners abroad and their families
  • liaise with individuals as well as state and non-governmental bodies which provide support to prisoners abroad

A World Café session was used to maximise participant engagement and sharing of knowledge among participants. All presentations, a summary report and World Cafe report from the Workshop are available on here. At the Workshop, an initiative of the EuroPris/CEP Foreign National Prisoners Expert Group to collate a ‘Good Practice Manual for Working with Foreign Prisoners’ was launched. It is the intention of the Expert Group to collect examples of working with foreign offenders and prisoners in Europe to spread good practice among European States, please contact nickhammond@europris.org for details of this initiative or to contribute to it.


The booklet Picture it in Prison has been developed for foreign national prisoners and for prison staff working with them to overcome the language obstacle. The new version has 450 different pictures classified per theme and translations of 60 basic words and sentences in twenty frequently used languages. The booklet (72 pages) can be ordered via file-page1prisonwatch@prisonwatch.org for € 5 (excluding 6% VAT and postal costs). For large orders it is possible to add the logo of the prison service on the reverse cover of the booklet. Download a sample of the booklet here.


Update 15th March 2016

EuroPris & CEP Foreign National Prisoners (FNP) Expert Group meeting, 5 & 6 February 2016.FNP group

The first meeting of the FNP Expert Group in 2015 took place in Bucharest following the EU funded STEPS 2 Project Conference. It was beneficial to combine the FNP Expert Group meeting with this dissemination conference on prisoner transfer under EU Framework Decision 909, given its relevance for the Expert Group members.
The Expert Group had a fresh start in 2016 by welcoming seven new members, nominated by EuroPris members and CEP. EuroPris nominations comprised Jennie von Alten, a Prison Governor of the Swedish Prison & Probation Service, Smiljka Barancek, Head of Unit from the Croatian Prison System Directorate and Isabelle Storme Psychological Advisor, Belgian Prison Service. Also nominated, Henrik Marker, Prison Governor of the Danish Prison and Probation Service was unable to attend the meeting in person. New nominated members from the CEP were Sonia Crozier, Deputy Director South East & Eastern National Probation Service, (England & Wales), Iuliana Carbunaru of the Romanian Probation Service and Gerhard Ploeg, Senior Advisor from the Directorate for Correctional Services, Norway.

The work undertaken by Group members to date from the 2015-2017 work plan was reviewed as well as the Group’s redrafted Terms of Reference. Particularly, the Research Study undertaken by Dr. Roisin Mulgrew, (member of the Expert Group and assistant professor at Nottingham university) into the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Recommendations on Foreign National Prisoners in foreign national only prisons. Dr Mulgrew was invited to present her research findings to the CoE’s Council for Penological Cooperation (PC-CP) in October 2015 joined by Kirsten Hawlitschek (EuroPris), co-chair of the FNP Expert Group.
The Expert Group further concentrated on the planning for a Foreign National Prisoners Workshop to be held in November 2016. Details of this workshop will be announced this summer, the drafting of a ‘Good Practice Handbook on Working with Foreign National Prisoners’ as well as a training event later this year for representatives of European Prison Services (prison governors and staff trainers) on how the CoE’s Recommendations on Foreign Prisoners can be and have been put into practice.
The FNP Expert Group, which is a unique collaborative Expert Group between EuroPris and the CEP, is looking forward to a busy and productive year in this important subject area using the experience of its prominent members.


Two events with a focus on Foreign Nationals took place in Amersfoort, The Netherlands in February. On February 12 2015 Anniversary of the organisation Education behind Foreign Bars was celebrated with an international conference. The next day, February 13 2015, the EuroPris/CEP expert group on Foreign National Prisoners held an expert meeting to establish a focus and plan their activities for 2015.

At the Foreign National Expert meeting organized by EuroPris / CEP the participants from the prison and probation services and university of Nottingham discussed the concrete activities that the group can take up in the current year to increase the attention for Foreign Nationals in Prison. Building on the intentions of the Council of Europe to evaluate the implementation of their recommendations, the expert group came right after the meeting to an agreement with the CoE to provide a presentation to the plenary session of the Council for Penological Cooperation on the implementation of the 2012 Recommendation on Foreign Nationals.


Foreign National Prisoners is an issue if growing importance for European Prison Services. EuroPris and CEP decided to address this issue jointly and developed with the support of their FNP expert group an agenda for the workshop. The workshop was held in London 20-22 October 2014, and was attended by 60 participants from 14 countries and 17 Prison and Probation agencies.

The workshop focused on a comparison between prisons with 100% FNP and FNP dominated prisons and deal with the issues of release, resettlement and reintegration of FNPs. The participants at the workshop also had the opportunity to visit Maidstone prison, which is a 100% FNP prison.

Presentations from the workshop can be downloaded on our website here.

To download the report of the workshop click here.


On 20th May 2014 an expert meeting on Foreign National Prisoners (FNP) took place in Vienna. The meeting was jointly organised by EuroPris and CEP and hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Justice. At the meeting representatives from four European organisations participated; the organisation Prisoners Abroad, The University of Nottingham and the directors of CEP and EuroPris. The aim of the meeting was to develop a strategy (short term/long term) to put the issue of Foreign National Prisoners on the agenda of European Probation and Prison Services; to define tangible and manageable goals and results and to select a limited number of activities that can be realised by the work of the expert group in the coming year.

To read the report from the expert meeting, click here.


The CEP and EuroPris held a joint expert meeting on foreign national prisoners on 3 October 2013.

shutterstock_2887956A Special Interest Group on this topic has worked under the umbrella of CEP for many years. As a result of the closer cooperation between CEP and EuroPris it was proposed to revigorate this group under a joint umbrella. Participants from probation and prison services as well as non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and universities active in the field of foreign nationals will look into the needs of both sectors and define new aims and objectives for the future work of the Special Interest Group. In this discussion the prison sector will be represented by experts from the Netherlands’ National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), the Austrian and Norwegian Prison Service’s and the University of Nottingham (previously involved in the Council of Europe Recommendations on Foreign Prisoners).

The report of the Special Interest Group meeting can be downloaded here. 

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