14th March 2022

Independent think tank The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has today published its report, ‘The Golden Thread: Putting family at the heart of the criminal justice system’. Following three years of research, including interviews with former prisoners and prisoners’ families, the report finds that there is ‘highly inconsistent recognition of the importance of family’ across the system and calls for significant cultural change if Lord Farmer’s recommendations are to be realised.

While welcoming the Government’s steps to implement positive change across the male and female estates, CSJ’s research reveals that families ‘have to battle a system that often treats them as guilty by association’. ‘The Golden Thread’ advances recommendations that instead place them at the heart of every stage of the criminal justice process. This includes tackling the trauma of arrest, recognising the impact of sentencing on family, maintaining connection during custody, and preparing both prisoners and their families for life after prison.

Pact CEO Andy Keen-Downs commented:

Five years after Lord Farmer’s first ground-breaking report was welcomed by the Government, this excellent new report from the Centre for Social Justice once again challenges us to follow the evidence, and scale up our ambitions to place family, and good relationships, at the heart of the criminal justice system. 

Whilst neglect, abuse and conflict in the home are known to contribute to offending, mental ill-health, addiction, and poorer health, the corollary is also true – that confident parenting, strong family ties, and healthy relationships reduce the risk of reoffending and give children and young people the chance to fulfil their potential and avoid contact with the criminal justice system. ‘The Golden Thread’ invites us to rise to the opportunity to build a safer, better society, not just for this generation, but also for the next.

The report also highlights several Pact initiatives that are working to improve outcomes for both families and prisoners: Routes 2 Change, the Gateway Communication Programme, and the Prisoners’ Families Online Portal for reporting concerns about loved ones in custody.

You can read the report in full at: https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/library/the-golden-thread