Building Stronger Families (BSF) supports the relationships between prisoners and their partners while in prison, so building up and strengthening them as a couple, reducing risk, improving outcomes for children, and reducing the risk of re-offending. The course is based on the PREP methodology - a scientifically based and empirically tested method of teaching relationship education which draws on 30 years of research.

By the end of the course, participants will have a greater understanding of how language and behaviour can be used to strengthen relationships and reduce conflict. They will have strengthened their communication skills, and will be able to:

  • List the five ‘Love Languages’ and give examples of how they can use these to meet their partner’s basic emotional needs.
  • Recognise *STOP signs, and how using them will strengthen and grow their relationship.
  • Recognise the common causes of conflict, describe their own typical manifestations of anger and use these as a basic method of conflict resolution.
  • Develop co-parenting strategies in custody, and increase understanding of the need for positive co-parenting after release.
  • Give examples of serious destructive behaviours for which forgiveness is likely to be needed, enumerate the steps to forgiveness and describe some of the benefits of giving and receiving forgiveness.
  • Give examples of how choices made daily affect the quality and longevity of relationships and how the fundamental choice of commitment to each other provides a solid foundation
  • Understand how they can better manage their personal finances and avoid money worries causing relationship issues or re-offending.

This is a prison-based course which comprises six full-day sessions, typically spread across six weeks.

Partners come into the prison to attend the course with the prisoner, the couples have lunch together, and the partners leave at the end of the afternoon session.


An MOJ evaluation in 2012 reviewed the data from 144 prisoners who had completed BSF and who had been released for at least a year was compared to a matched cohort of prisoners with similar profiles. The BSF participants had a 10% lower re-offending rate. 

Quality Standards

This course has official endorsement and accreditation under the SFJ Awards ALP* quality assurance framework (*Accrediting Learning Professionally). The course has been approved by the Ministry of Justice as an effective regime intervention within the PSI 4350 assessment process.