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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 8, 2004: Breaking the Cycle of Crime

Young parents in prison need better contact with their families to prevent their children becoming the next generation of criminals, according to a report just published by the Prison Reform Trust. The report and resource pack is a substantive guide to policy and practice on meeting the needs of young parents who offend. In a foreword to the report Cherie Booth QC says 'we need to make sure that today's sons and daughters of prisoners don't end up tomorrow's offenders'.

The Government does not collect figures on the number of prisoners who are parents but each year over 17,700 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment. Women in prison are nearly always the primary carer and are often single parents. It is also estimated that a quarter of young men in custody under the age of 21 are fathers, six times higher than the national average. There are currently 102 places in mother and baby units reserved for prisoners who have children under the age of 18 months.

In total an estimated 150,000 children have a parent in prison and, according to Government figures, 7 percent of primary school children experience the imprisonment of their father.

There is also evidence that children who have a father with a criminal record are more likely to become criminals themselves. Many young parents in custody are held long distances from their home despite the fact that research shows that maintaining good family ties can reduce a prisoner's risk of re-offending. At the beginning of July a third of all prisoners were held more than 50 miles from their home town and 13 per cent were held more than 100 miles away.

For women in custody the corresponding figures are higher with half more than 50 miles and a third more than 100 miles away from home. Just 5 per cent of women prisoners' children remain in their own home once their mother has been sentenced.

Surveys of youth justice and probation services reveal that while there was an awareness of the importance of assisting parents of teenage offenders little, or no attention, had been paid to young offenders who were already parents themselves. Though figures on the parenting status of prisoners are not routinely collected by the Home Office. it is estimated that 25 per cent of young offenders are fathers and 39 per cent of female young offenders are mothers.

Based on research in eight UK prisons, the report profiles good practice and identifies opportunities for the Prison Service and voluntary organizations to work together to support young parents to take responsibility for their children on release. The report concludes that much more could be done by those working in the criminal justice system to support young parents who offend and for professionals in other public services to respond to the needs of prisoners' families. It calls on the Department for Education and Skills to take the lead on making integrated plans with the Home Office to:

  • Improve support for young parents in prison and their children and partners outside.
  • Ensure that once released from prison young parents and their families have better support with parenting and are given more opportunities to find employment and housing.
  • Provide alternatives to prison which meet the needs of young parents and to promote these alternatives with the courts.

According to Prison Reform Trust Director Juliet Lyon:

'Crime doesn't have to run in the family. Prisoners' families, particularly their young dependent children, are overlooked as innocent victims of crime. Work to support vulnerable young parents who offend offers a unique opportunity, not only to help them get out of trouble, but also to become the good parents most want to be, and so avoid a depressing cycle of misery and crime.'