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    When someone goes to jail, the prisoner is not the only one on whom a door slams shut. The family members and friends left behind also serve a sentence of their own. It is a silent sentence of loneliness, financial hardship and often social exclusion.

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    Partners are suddenly faced with raising children and paying bills on their own. Youngsters are often bullied at school because mum and dad have gone to prison.

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    Imprisonment damages family life with families often finding it too difficult to travel to visit loves ones often resulting in the breakdown of family relationships.

The effects of having a loved one enter the criminal justice system:-

  • That currently 12,000 children in South Wales have a parent in prison

  • 7% of children will see a parent imprisoned during their school years

  • 65% of prisoner’s children end up in prison themselves

  • Each year more children experience the imprisonment of a parent than experience their parents’ divorce

  • 45% of prisoners lose contact with their families.

  • 66% of all female prisoners are mothers

  • Imprisoning mothers for a non violent crime carries a cost to children and the state of more than £17m over a 10 year period

  • Those prisoners visited by a partner or family member have a significantly lower re-offending rate at 52% than those who were not visit at 70%

  • 160,000 children a year have a parents sent to custody
    – 2.5 times the number of children in care

  • 6 times the number of children on the protective register.

Based on projected prison population growth this could rise to 200,000 in the next five years.


A government review of the children of offenders carried out in 2012 stated that children of offenders are an invisible group; there is no robust system that allows the sharing of information about who they are, little awareness of their needs and no systematic support.

The following statistics illustrate the plight of children with parents in the judicial system:-

  • 65% of boys with a convicted parent go on to offend

  • It is estimated that 160,000 children have a parent in prison in the UK

  • 7% of UK children experience their father’s imprisonment

  • There were 39 children in mother and baby units in 2008

  • 30% of children of female prisoners are taken into care

Home office research has found that 66% of women in prison have dependent children under the age of 18.