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The Ministry of Justice has launched a new policy framework for prison governors on how to work with families and charities such as Pact. The ‘Strengthening Prisoners Family Ties Policy Framework’ comes into force with immediate effect, and has been warmly welcomed by Pact.

The policy draws on a wealth of research and evidence, and strongly reflects Pact’s recommendations over many years, and the findings of the report by Lord Michael Farmer. It states that:

Supporting prisoners’ relationships outside of prison is considered to help prevent reoffending and reduce intergenerational crime.

The policy framework goes further and outlines the evidence base that points to the beneficial effects of emotional support and healthy family relationships during custody across a wide range of outcomes, including specific factors such as motivation to live crime free lives, having accommodation or a job after release, use of drugs and alcohol, and being able to cope after release.

Pact particularly welcomes the recognition of the benefits of a partnership approach. The report calls for collaboration, stating:

Prisoners, their family and significant others, all internal and external staff and service providers are encouraged to work in partnership and share good practice, to enhance opportunities for prisoners to develop or enhance positive relationships.

Andy Keen-Downs, Pact’s CEO, who worked as a pro-bono advisor on the Lord Farmer report, as part of a small group convened by Clinks, warmly welcomed the new policy framework:

Whilst prisons are often in the news for all of the wrong reasons, we want to applaud the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison Service for this excellent evidence-based approach to supporting the family. It is particularly gratifying that as we mark 120 years of supporting prisoners’ children and families, the Government should launch such a well-founded set of directions to prison governors. We give it our wholehearted endorsement and we welcome opportunities to work with prison governors, Lord Farmer, and our friends and colleagues in the voluntary, public and private sectors, to ensure that this policy framework is effectively delivered.

We have saved a copy of the Framework in Services/Family Services in prison