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Children of prisoners: fixing a broken system

Report: Children of Prisoners: Fixing a broken system
Executive summary: Children of Prisoners: Fixing a broken system
High-resolution, print-ready version of the executive summary

A charitable trust looking to expand its support of criminal justice reform asked Crest to provide new analysis of the scale of the problem and make practical recommendations for change. Children of prisoners are an invisible group, and are at greater risk of poor outcomes.

They are not systematically identified at any point during their parent’s criminal justice journey, meaning we do not know where they are or what their needs are, and have to rely on estimates of their number - these estimates are out of date, and underestimate the true scale of the problem.

The solution


Crest commissioned new data modelling to update existing estimates of children of prisoners. The modelling put the number of incidences of a parent going to prison each year in England and Wales at 312,000 - significantly higher than previously thought.

We reviewed the available evidence of the risks and outcomes associated with parental imprisonment, before evaluating the current system from arrest through to resettlement, identifying potential touchpoints through which children of prisoners could be identified and better supported. The whole-system evaluation was supplemented by case studies, which looked at examples of good practice across the country.

The results


The report was widely welcomed with support from Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield and other sector leaders, including the author of the 2017 landmark Farmer Review into prisoners’ families commissioned the Ministry of Justice. In advance of formal publication of the report, Crest hosted a roundtable event attended chaired by Dame Louise Casey and attended by Anne Longfield. Our findings were featured on Channel 4 News and have been shared on the National Information Centre on Children of Offenders (NICCO) website.


The UK's only consultancy dedicated to crime and justice.

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