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Families Affected by Imprisonment

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A teenage boy who has been supported by Spurgeons family and criminal justice service looking out a window through the blinds.

160,000 children each year have a parent in prison.

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

37%
of prisoners have family members who had been convicted of a crime

29%
of prisoners experienced abuse as a child

63%
of prisoners had been suspended or temporarily excluded from school

Many children, overwhelmed by their problems, act-up or act out in a bid for attention or a cry for help. Children seen as 'trouble-makers' may become isolated or be excluded from mainstream schooling. When this happens the risk of them becoming involved in criminal activity grows. They face the challenges of drugs, bullying, abuse, poverty and family breakdown alone - sometimes because their own parents are in prison.

Children of prisoners are:

  • 3x more likely to develop behavioural problems
  • 2x more likely to develop anti-social or delinquent behaviour

The impact a parent's imprisonment has on their children is not fully known. But we do know, and believe, that it's crucial that we help children to address the root-causes of their problems, support children and their families while they have a family member in prison and ensure we break the cycle of imprisonment within families.

Find out more about how Spurgeons supports children with a parent in prison by reading our review of the London Prisons Visiting Service 2014.

Download report


Our support for children affected by the justice system spans a wide range of child centred support

We provide family inclusive programmes, preparing for release and supporting post release to develop family cohesion

Support families at times of crisis

In partnership with the Police, schools, social workers and Youth Offending teams, we support families at times of crisis and provide one-to-one mentoring and befriending for children.

Child focused visitors centres

We run child focused visitors centres in London prisons, ensuring children have the most safe and comfortable experience when they visit a parent in prison.


We work with children, young people and their families to ensure that the cycle of generational offending is broken

We know that children and young people affected by imprisonment have the worst outcomes and life chances. And that there is a poor record of reducing reoffending upon release from prison creating significant cycles of instability for families. To tackle this, we use our expertise in understanding and delivering child-centred services to deliver high quality services for children affected by imprisonment and offending.


Approach and outcomes

Our approach is to provide a family inclusive programme which works with the offender, partner and children, preparing for release and supporting post release to develop family cohesion. The aim of the programme is to identify the effectiveness of a co-ordinated whole family approach supporting pre and post release to secure improved outcomes in relation to children, family functioning and reoffending.

Our visitor’s centres provide supportive, friendly and welcoming environments for people visiting prisoners, including those with children

Find out more

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