towards the end

Once it’s all finished – when a sentence has been served or when you have gone as far as you can and are just waiting for the years or the transfer to the UK to pass – you will, by that stage, have come to terms with your new life. 

You and your loved ones will have learned a huge amount about yourselves, broken systems and much else. It’s true that you can get used to anything. 

Yes, once back in the UK, you could consider a judicial review. Some have greatly benefited from being returned to the UK. But there are no winners in these stories, only survivors.

back to society

Remember that offenders (usually) come out of prison eventually, and go back into society. 

The same is true for anyone who has experienced a crisis of whatever sort, not just imprisonment. PTSD and a whole range of other disorders may face them. In the end, though, they will become workers, taxpayers, voters and parents. There will come a day when you are all together having a cup of tea back home. 

People will then have to justify their actions, or lack of them, and plan for the future. 

Remember that the media shelf life of a case, even one that is really big, normally lasts just a few weeks or months. Think intelligently and strategically for the years ahead. 

There may be people who say stupid things about your case; ignore them and press on. You will know by now that an element of the Great British public still have a “flogging’s too good for them” attitude, no matter what your situation is. Find the good guys and keep them close. 

proportion and comparison

Over the years, you should have obtained a sense of proportion and comparison. 

You know by now not to sweat the small stuff. 

You will have learned about the problems that others have, how they compare to yours and how lucky you are in some respects. 

If you have learned anything, please let it be that you should be kind, help others and not jump to judgement.

Always fact-check and don’t automatically believe a lot of what the mainstream media tell you. 

Life goes on, as they say, and you will feel that. You have got to pick yourself up and get on with it.

criminal record

You may well have a criminal record, and that in itself is a separate subject. 

There is a galaxy of help groups and charities and others who are all fighting to help and advise offenders, as well as educating employers and society and lobbying for changes in our laws. Among the best I found was Unlock

But it’s a mountain to climb. In a UK population of 66 million, there are around 11 million people with a criminal record. Are they all to be treated as outcasts? 

becoming political

From my own experiences on both sides of the counter, so to speak, and from the past decade speaking with other suffering families and victims of crime, often you can’t help but become somewhat political. 

Yet we are lucky – many nations have it so much worse than the UK. 

The secrecy and unwillingness to communicate, from all governments, often masks a basic truth – that they know their systems are broken.

The very idea of being British, of a British sense of fair play, of Britain helping its citizens, comes into question. Ask the FCO’s customers: in terms of fair trials and other consular services, are they happy with the support that was provided? Did they feel the FCO, the local embassy or the British government helped them?

The FCO and their hard working staff (I was one of them) do try their hardest against a backdrop of challenge and change. 

In conclusion, I hope you have found this guidance of help. And remember that if you need them, our Arrested Abroad experts can assist you, should you or someone close to you be detained in another country. 

In the darkness you find yourself in, there is hope and there are others willing to help. Good luck!