Number of children with a parent in prison right now tops 100,000 The ever-growing prison population sees record number of children and young people affected by the imprisonment of a parent. Children with a parent in prison are more likely to get involved in crime later in life, as well as suffering from a range of other problems. Pact (Prison Advice and Care Trust) calls for the Government to reconsider the prison expansion programme and appoint a cross-Whitehall minister to address the issue. For the first time on record, an estimated 100,000 children have a parent in prison on any given day, according to new analysis published today (5 October 2023) by the Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact). The most recent weekly figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that the prison population stands at 87,793. The MoJ estimates that each male prisoner has, on average 1.14 children meaning that an estimated 100,084 children have a parent in prison right now. Estimates for the number of children affected by parental imprisonment in the UK in a year vary, with the most recent being as high as 312,000. The prison population has risen by 80% in the last three decades and has grown substantially in the last few years, returning to levels not seen for over a decade. It is projected to rise by a further 7,400 by 2024. Many children with a parent in prison go on to lead positive and fulfilling lives. However, a range of research shows that they are more likely to suffer from problems later in life including mental health problems, homelessness and poverty. Crucially they are also more likely to get involved in crime. Pact is calling for the Government to: Make better use of community sentences for people who have committed non-violent offences. Around three in five people who are sent to prison to serve a sentence have committed a non-violent offence. Reconsider its prison-building programme to create an additional 20,000 prison places. England & Wales has the highest rates of imprisonment in western Europe with numbers of people behind bars expected to top 100,000 by the middle of the decade. Create a new ministerial position with responsibility to develop a joined-up action plan to support these children, working across Education, Justice, Health and Policing. Andy Keen Downs, Pact CEO said: “This is a grim milestone that says a lot about our approach to criminal justice in this country. By imprisoning record numbers of parents we are storing up a whole raft of problems, the impact of which will be felt for decades to come. "Children are extraordinarily resilient, and with the right support, many children with a parent in prison can lead great lives. However, it is a sad fact that they are more likely to suffer from a whole range of problems later in life including mental health problems, homelessness and poverty, as well as being more likely to get involved in crime. “The public believe that prison is the right place for many people who offend. However, it’s time for the Government to reconsider its prison expansion programme and to make better use of community sentences for people who have committed a non-violent offence. In a rush to get ‘tough on crime’ and imprison ever greater numbers of people, ministers seem to have given little consideration to the long-lasting damage this policy will wreak on children and families. “Prisoners’ children fall between the gaps in public policy. We need a designated Government minister with responsibility to develop a joined-up action plan to support these forgotten children, working across Education, Justice, Health and Policing.” ENDS Notes to editors: The prison population now stands at 87,793 (figures published 29 September). Government research data shows that, on average, each prisoner has at least 1.14 children, meaning that an estimated 100,084 children have a parent in prison on any given day. Government figures show that the prison population has risen substantially in the last three decades. It is currently projected to rise by a further 7,400 people by 2024. England and Wales have the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe. The prison population rate per 100,000 people is 141. This compares to 106 in France, 96 in Italy and 67 in Germany. Of the 43,000 people sent to prison in 2022, 61% had committed a non-violent offence. prison_the_facts_2023.pdf (prisonreformtrust.org.uk) (p2) No-one routinely monitors the parental status of prisoners in the UK or systematically identifies children of prisoners, where they live or which services they are accessing. There is a body of research which has identified a range of increased risks and poorer outcomes for children whose fathers have been sent to prison. Studies indicate increased ‘risky behaviours’. Others indicate poorer mental health outcomes, and others point to potential lifetime effects for these children. About Pact: Pact is a charity that works in over 60 prisons across England and Wales to support prisoners, people with convictions, and their children and families. We provide caring and life changing services at every stage of the criminal justice process: in court, in prison, on release, and in the community. Working with families themselves, we have also developed a range of resources and information for children and young people whose family member is in prison.