Heard and seen: Supporting the children of prisoners
A remarkable Oxfordshire charity supports one of society’s most vulnerable groups: prisoners’ children
THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN WHO HAVE A PARENT IN PRISON IS NOT OFFICIALLY RECORDED. Crest’s Children of Prisoners report (2019) estimated that there are 312,000 incidences a year of children losing a parent to custody. The prison population in England and Wales quadrupled in size between 1900 and 2017, with around half this increase taking place since 1990 (House of Commons, UK Prison Population Statistics, July 2018). It follows that the number of children impacted is also increasing rapidly. Unless they are registered or known to children’s services for other reasons, none of these children will receive any specific governmental support. Children impacted by parental imprisonment are a vulnerable group through no wrongdoing of their own. By the age of 48, men who had a parent in prison during boyhood are three times more likely to have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, unemployment, anxiety or depression and broken relationships (Social Care Institute for Excellence 2008). According to the Ministry of Justice in 2008, 65% of boys with a parent in prison go on to commit an offence themselves. In addition to the behavioural and emotional toll inflicted on the children of prisoners, the cost to wider society is considerable. It is estimated that every £1 invested in supporting prisoners’ families could save the taxpayer £11 (PACT 2012).
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