Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: Crest publishes ‘Children of Prisoners: Fixing a broken system’

19th March 2019

Crest has published Children of Prisoners: Fixing a broken system, a report detailing the impact of parental imprisonment on children which makes policy recommendations for better responses to this cohort of children.

The report, which includes new modelling using up-to-date prison population records, has shown that there are 312,000 incidents per year of a child losing a parent to custody in England and Wales, 17,000 of which as a result of mothers being sent to prison. This revised estimate is a significant increase from the previously used figure of 200,000, based on imprisonment rates from 2008.

Crest takes a whole-system view, highlighting that during a parent’s journey through the criminal justice system there are numerous points which children of prisoners could be identified – on arrest, at sentencing, on entry to prison, and under probation supervision.

Crest makes 7 recommendations for change, all based on the premise that support for children of prisoners should occur as early as possible; take the form of whole family support; be flexible and targeted; and should last as long as necessary.

In the report, Crest calls for:

  • A requirement for courts to notify the relevant local authority when a parent is sentenced to custody
  • Development of joint protocols between local authorities, prisons and probation services to address the needs of prisoners’ families based on an assessment of the needs of the children
  • Action on reform in line with the Farmer Review

Read the full report by Crest here.

Read the executive summary here


Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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