‘The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners' Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime’ (also known as the ‘Farmer Review’) published in August 2017, aimed to establish a link between a prisoner’s family relationships and a reduction in reoffending. A total of 19 recommendations resulted from the report and an update on the implementation of these recommendations, as of August 2018, has been published by NICCO (National Information Centre on Children of Offenders).
Progress has been made in a number of areas but more work is required to fully implement the recommendations of the report. Updates on progress in several of the areas originally outlined by Lord Farmer are summarised below.
A pilot of the Prisoner Escort Record (PER) service has been running in some prisons. The new version includes a “Family or Significant Other” name and contact details which will be added to a prisoners file before they leave court. The full PER system should be in place by March/April 2019.
Changes to the Offender Management in Custody model ensure that prisoners are allocated a key worker to work with the prisoner throughout their sentence to support them to maintain contact with family and friends.
A guidance paper on the unique needs of care leavers has been produced to guide Governors on the issues to include when developing their local ‘Families and Significant Others Strategy’. Each prison will also be required to produce a quarterly position statement for care leavers. Twenty-five prisons have already taken steps to formally recognise the needs of care leavers in their strategies.
Recognising the importance of family contact, new prisons are being built that include high-quality visitor facilities that will give visitors a good experience in a safe and secure environment. Health and social care partners have also been involved to ensure the needs of those with disabilities are met.
Regarding the recommendation that consideration be given to the closeness of family when there is a proposal to move prisoners out of their home region, the update document notes that this may not always be possible while ensuring access to the right services. There has also been a prioritisation of closeness to court for men on remand and closeness to home for men serving short sentences, and during their resettlement period preparing for release into the community.
A Digital Change Programme has been created to improve the use and capability of digital networks in prisons to support the rehabilitation of prisoners and the maintenance of family ties. The options for the use of Internet-Based Video Solutions in establishments to facilitate family visits are also being explored.
Updates on the implementation of recommendations from the ‘Farmer Review’ are available on the NICCO website.
The ‘Farmer Review’ (2017) is available on the Ministry of Justice website.
- IPRT: UK Report (2017) highlights ‘family ties at the heart of prison reform.’ (August 2017)
- Prison Reform Trust (UK): The Woolf Report: A Summary of the Main Findings and Recommendations of the Inquiry into Prison Disturbances (1991)
- Ministry of Justice: White Paper on Prison Safety and Reform (2016)