Children face significant pressures and emotional upheaval when a family member is imprisoned. 

When a family is affected by imprisonment:

  • the family is more likely to experience poverty and debt, as well as feel stigmatised in their communities 
  • children tend to feel more isolated in schools and are more likely to face a range of poor outcomes, potentially leading to impoverished/damaging lives.

This also affects children and families who have a parent or family member involved elsewhere in the criminal justice system, not just in prison.

Families Affected by Imprisonment Project Logo

About the FABI Project 

This project has been set up to raise awareness of the issues faced by families affected by imprisonment, as well as to encourage prevention work and more targeted, non-stigmatising, support.

The main aims of the FABI project are to:

  • Create a formal system to identify children affected by parental imprisonment so that, systematically, they become a ‘visible’ group that can be better supported 
  • Help local services to better understand and address the health and wellbeing needs of children affected by parental imprisonment 
  • Help schools and other educational environments to provide better support to children affected by parental imprisonment 
  • Raise more awareness about the impact of parental imprisonment on children and families

The long-term vision for the project

“To ensure that a whole family approach is taken to the impact of offending and imprisonment on the children and families of the men, women and young people with offending behaviour in North Wales, to support positive health and well-being outcomes for these children and families, therein helping to build resilience and contributing towards a reduction in inter-generational offending as well as re-offending.”

A multi-agency approach

This project is made up of 10 funding partners and reports directly to the North Wales Safer Communities Board (external link):

  • North Wales Police
  • North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
  • North Wales Area Planning Board
  • Wrexham County Borough Council
  • Isle of Anglesey County Council
  • Flintshire County Council 
  • The Crime Commissioner’s Office 
  • HM Prison and Probation Services Wales
  • NHS Wales
  • HMPS Berwyn 

Professionals – get involved with the project

If your work relates to this issue then please get in touch if you would like to support this project, or think you could help us develop the project. 

We want to hear from you:

  • If you collate figures on the numbers of children or families from North Wales affected by this issue 
  • If you have a specific understanding of the needs of families affected by imprisonment through the work that you do day-to-day
  • If you provide support to families affected by imprisonment
  • If you would like to understand more about this issue so you can provide support in future

Get in touch


Add your service to ‘Dewis Cymru’

If you provide a local service that can support children and families affected by imprisonment, we recommend that you add it to the Dewis Cymru website. 

Dewis Cymru is a directory of local support services in Wales. Its purpose is to help people access local services in Wales and find the information they need to improve their own well-being.

More information and resources

How having a family member in prison can affect children and families

Intergenerational offending is a big problem; a landmark study found that 65% of boys who had a father in custody go on to offend themselves. 

When a mother is imprisoned this also has lasting consequences for children, and only 5% of children with a mother in prison remain in their own home.

Significantly, all of North Wales’ women in custody are currently held in England. 

Children with a parent in prison are:

  • twice as likely to experience conduct and mental health problems
  • less likely to do well at school and more likely to be excluded
  • three times more likely to be a perpetrator or victim of domestic violence
  • four times more likely to become dependent on drugs

Vulnerability to county lines exploitation

Children and families affected by imprisonment are one of the vulnerable groups that can be targeted by organised criminal gangs through ‘county lines’. These gangs use dedicated phone lines to move and supply drugs (usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas), recruiting vulnerable people to distribute the drugs.

Family ties help reduce reoffending

Research has shown that close ties between prisoners and key family members can significantly reduce the risk of reoffending. 

The UK government commissioned a landmark study to investigate how connecting prisoners with their families could improve offender wellbeing and reduce reoffending. The findings are detailed in following August 2017 report by Lord Farmer:

You can also email to request previous copies of the FABI newsletter, as well as further resources and background information on this topic.

Related links