Support for prisoners’ families saves more than £1m every year, says report

Every £1 invested in supporting prisoners’ families could save the taxpayer £11, a study commissioned by the Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) has found.

The report, written by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), examines Pact’s prison-based integrated family support service, which the charity has been running at 11 prisons across England and Wales for the past three years.

The study focuses on work at HMP Wandsworth in London, HMP Swansea and HMP Eastwood Park, a women’s prison in South Gloucestershire.

NEF’s cost-benefit analysis takes into account the extent to which the integrated family support service reduces reoffending, improves health and social care outcomes, and aids prisoners’ resettlement on release from custody.

Based on data from the three prisons, the report estimates that the service delivers savings to the state of around £1,281,240 annually.

This is without including any financial evaluation of the benefits to the children of prisoners, such as improved educational attainment and mental health.

Andy Keen-Downs, chief executive of Pact, argued that families should be the focus of the government’s “rehabilitation revolution”.

"This report shows that we need to put families at the heart of a rehabilitation revolution to cut re-offending now, and to support children who are otherwise left to serve a ‘hidden sentence’ and become the next generation of prisoners,” he said.

“There is now robust, independent, hard economic evidence supporting what we, and every good prison governor, have been saying for many years – keeping families together, strengthening family ties and relationships, and protecting the family home, can make a massive difference to resettlement outcomes and re-offending.”

Keen-Downs added that troubled families teams in local authorities should prioritise work with prisoners’ families.

“In these austere economic times, we must spend money on the right things,” he explained. “We have a choice between building more prisons and doing what we have always done, or taking a fresh approach and investing in the things that make a difference.”

According to the Ministry of Justice approximately 200,000 children experience the imprisonment of a parent every year. On any given day, over 93,000 children in England and Wales have a parent in prison.

This article was taken from www.cypnow.co.uk – http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073637/support-prisoners-families-saves-gbp1m-report