Ministry of Justice
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Cutting crime through family ties in north-east prisons

Efforts to drive down crime in the north-east by helping prisoners and their children to maintain contact are underway, thanks to a funding boost from the Prison Service.

  • New project aims to cut reoffending by boosting parent-child contact
  • Offenders who maintain family ties are less likely to commit further crimes
  • Seven prisons to benefit in the region

More than £120,000 has been awarded to the charity Nepacs, allowing children who want to sustain a relationship with a parent in prison, to stay in touch and helping cut reoffending from prisoners.

Evidence shows that offenders who maintain family ties are nearly 40% less likely to reoffend, demonstrating the role families can play in keeping the wider community safe.

Additionally, independent findings suggest better addressing the needs of prisoners’ children would help break the cycle of crime in families.

Alex Chalk, Prisons Minister, recently said:

Keeping in touch with those closest to us can play a huge role in our wellbeing, and we know that prisoners who maintain those ties are much less likely to reoffend.

The funding for this work will help prisoners rehabilitate and in turn keep our communities safe.

Amanda Lacey, Chief Executive of Nepacs, recently said:

The impact of separation can be devastating for parents and children, while many find the legal implications surrounding child contact extremely difficult to navigate.

Our work helps women in Low Newton understand their rights and get the support they need to become informed and involved in decisions which affect them and their children.

The new scheme – the Parental Rights in Prison project – also helps prisoners understand complex issues, such as contact arrangements, through weekly drop-in sessions and monthly legal rights workshops with a family law solicitor.

The programme helps parents in prison understand the law on child contact, including the seriousness and potential implications of breaching child contact arrangements and help parents accept when a court has decided that total separation is in the best interests of them and their children.

The programme’s workshops are based at women’s prison HMP and YOI Low Newton, with learning and support to be provided across the region’s seven prisons.

Notes to Editors

  • Monthly sessions with a family law solicitor offer prisoners specialist advice on parental rights with different issues explored each month.
  • Weekly sessions with prison support workers allow parents to discuss issues affecting them and undertake practical work such as writing letters.
  • The service is also inviting prisoners to help staff develop training resources, using their experience of exercising their parental rights in prison, to ensure others receive the best support.
  • More than 300,000 children in England and Wales are thought to experience the imprisonment of a parent every year, according to Crest.
  • Over 280 people volunteer for Nepacs, providing a number of services to support friends and families of prisoners, at HMP Northumberland, HMP Frankland, HMP Holme House, HMP Durham, HMP and YOI Deerbolt, Kirklevington Grange and HMP and YOI Low Newton.
  • Nepacs welcomes over 125,000 visitors – including 22,000 children – through their visitor centres most years and offers tea bars, play sessions for prisoners’ children and youth projects.
  • Parental rights project workers can support with the following:

    • Adoption proceedings and processes
    • Family law issues
    • Contact issues and arrangements
    • Letter writing contact
    • Support after adoption
    • Understanding legal terms and processes
  • Prisoners are only eligible for the scheme if the barrier to their children is imprisonment. Like in the community, prisoners are not eligible for such support if a court has legally removed a child for their own safety.
  • Nepacs are working in partnership with HMP&YOI Low Newton Prison, Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors and Durham University, who will be evaluating the project.
  • Lord Farmer’s 2016 review, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, found that “supportive relationships with family members and significant others give meaning and all important motivation to other strands of rehabilitation and resettlement activity”.
  • Crest’s report on children of prisoners cited evidence that 65% of prisoners’ sons end up in the criminal justice system themselves.


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