In 2013 a pan-European study led by the University of Huddersfield in the UK documented the huge impact of parental imprisonment on children's mental health adding to previous evidence that parental imprisonment leads to poor outcomes for children whose educational attainment will suffer and are three times more likely than their peers to go on to offend.
The government's own research shows that re-offending rates are dramatically reduced if prisoners can stay in contact with their families during their sentences. Yet still there is no reliable information collected on the children of prisoners and there is no statutory body with clear responsibility for supporting prisoners' children. The charities also warn that bureaucratic problems affecting the family visiting system are so serious they contribute to children losing contact with their parents.In recent years the number of prison visits has fallen despite an increasing prison population.
7% of children will see a parent imprisoned during their school years and around 200,000 children a year have a parent sent to prison. This is around two and half times the number of children in care, and over six times the number of children on the Child Protection Register. Children of prisoners also have about three times the risk for mental health problems compared to their peers and experience higher levels of social disadvantage.
The charities are calling on the UK Government and Welsh Government to implement a three point Agenda for Action for prisoners' children.