Support for defendants’ families in court

Pact provides highly trained court volunteers in London and Wales who support defendants’ families at a hearing, trial or sentencing.
Court Support For Defendants Families
Families On Trial A Mother's Story

How does the Court Support Service work? 

Watching a loved one sentenced to custody can be an anxious and isolating experience. Our volunteers can provide emotional support throughout the court process, talking to you before your loved one appears, sitting with you through the proceedings, and supporting you afterwards. They can also provide practical information such as: 

  • Which prison defendant is likely to be sent to, and how to contact the prison with any concerns
  • How sentences are calculated, and what some of the terminology used in courts means
  • How to book a prison visit or send in property
  • What services are available at the prison for families, and who to contact
  • How to support children who may have witnessed the arrest and whose parent or sibling has been taken away to prison
  • How to access help for you and your family in the community to support your own health and wellbeing 

Court can be very isolating and frightening, but Pact has enabled me to navigate it.

Defendant's family member

“Court can be very isolating and frightening, but Pact has enabled me to navigate it.”

Our court service often acts as a gateway to other Pact services, such as Befriending, Peer Support Groups, the Prisoners’ Families Helpline or our Family Engagement Service. Having access to these services early on can help you to maintain family ties, which we know reduces the risk of self-harm, suicide and violence in prisoners and improves outcomes for both them and their family members.

Where is the Court Support Service offered? 

London & South East

  • Central Criminal Court
  • Croydon Crown Court
  • Highbury Corner Magistrates Court
  • Inner London Crown Court
  • Isleworth Crown Court
  • Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court
  • Wood Green Crown Court
  • Woolwich Crown Court
  • Snaresbrook Crown Court 


  • Swansea Crown Court 

What training and experience do court volunteers have? 

Our court volunteers are highly trained and fully vetted. They are supported by our Court Volunteer Coordinator and work closely with court staff. Each day, they are given a list of cases that will be heard in court, and they can sensitively approach the families of defendants to offer support on the day of the hearing, trial, or sentence. 

Many volunteers choose to give their time because they have been through the same experience. They can offer a wealth of empathy and signpost you to services appropriate to your situation.  

How do I access support?

You can call Pact on 020 7735 9535 or email A Court Volunteer Coordinator will contact you to discuss available support.

For many people in prison, maintaining relationships with their families offers the best hope of real rehabilitation, but it can be very difficult to achieve. I am therefore very pleased to lend my support to the important work of Pact’s Courts Service.

The Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard - High Court Judge