A police boss is aiming to break a vicious circle of crime that sees 65 per cent of boys whose fathers are in prison going on to offend themselves.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones says it’s vital to ensure families ties are maintained even when the parents are locked up.
It’s estimated that more than 200,000 children in England and Wales are affected at any one time by parental imprisonment.
Mr Jones, a former police inspector who was elected as Plaid Cymru’s first Police and Crime Commissioner with a 25,000 majority in May, pledged to work with staff at the new Wrexham prison, HMP Berwyn, to ensure proper support for families.
He said: “Reducing re-offending is one of the objectives of my Police and Crime Plan and to do that we have to work in partnership to prevent crime, and therefore provide rehabilitation for offenders.
“One of the projects we have underway at the moment is working to provided help and support to children whose parents are in prison.
“The resettlement of offenders back in their communities, and preventing re-offending after being released, depends to a large extent on the help offered to their children while they were in prison.
“There is another reason why it is important to support children of people who are in prison because 65 per cent of boys with a father who is in prison go on to offend themselves.
“Children with a parent who is in prison are also twice more likely than other youngsters to have mental health problems.
“They’re also a lot less likely to do well at school and are more likely to be excluded from school.
“There is an opportunity for us to break this vicious circle and I am working with the staff of the new prison in Wrexham, which will be one of the largest in Europe, to ensure proper support for the families of the prisoners.
“It is in all our interests to ensure that these children get the support they need – we know that children of prisoners are more likely themselves to go on to offend.
“As well as addressing their immediate needs, timely intervention can break this damaging cycle. It’s better for the children, it’s better for the families and it’s better for society as a whole.”
According to Mr Jones, who was speaking at the Plaid Cymru conference in Llangollen, other priorities include tackling substance misuse, domestic abuse, modern slavery and greater transparency and accountability in the police force.
Mr Jones also said the four commissioners in Wales – two Plaid and two Labour – were united on the need to see criminal justice and policing devolved to Wales: “This has received a positive response from the First Minister and we now want to take matters forward,” he said.
Among challenges for the future were tackling cyber-crime and child sexual exploitation.
He added: “These emerging crimes are very much linked to technological advances and it is important for the police to move with society in this regard, so that frontline police are able to deal with issues out in the community rather than having to return to the police station to complete paperwork.”