Directory of Research

All research and evidence on NICCO is reviewed using a Quality Assessment Tool (QAT) developed by the University of Huddersfield and Barnardo's.

Research and evidence is assessed in four key areas: Methodological Quality, Child-Centredness, Relevance to Policy and Strategy, and Relevance to Practice with offender's children. This ensures that items on the NICCO website are as useful as possible to academics, practitioners, commissioners and other professionals. For more information about the development of the QAT or to review research in order to list it on NICCO, please see the QAT webpage where you can download the Tool, Guidebook and a short step-by-step 'How To' document. Please contact us to submit quality assessed research on to NICCO.

Click on the icons to see a full list of items which have been awarded a standard icon or icon+ (for items which have scored particularly highly) in each key area:

This report is the output of a review carried out jointly by the Ministry of Justice (National Offender Management Service) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (then Children, Young People and Families Directorate, DfES).

The review involves experts, practitioners, families and policy makers. The report firstly notes that children of prisoners experience poorer outcomes and the numbers of this group are increasing. The field visits conclude that there is no shared, robust information on who children of prisoners are, there is little awareness of their needs and no systematic support for them. Further, there is a lack of knowledge, evidence and understanding about what works and the support system is fractured both over time, and across the family unit. Policy recommendations include: - a mechanism to enable local authorities to systematically assess and meet the child's needs, underpinned by evidenced-based guidance, awareness raising and coherent information - close work with the Social Exclusion Task Force to incentivise delivery partners to adopt an approach that improves outcomes for the whole family, and fully engages and supports socially excluded families.

Download Children of Offenders Review below:

The Corston Report is a review of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system carried out in 2006 by Baroness Jean Corston.

The review made 43 recommendations about the treatment of women in the criminal justice system, and argued "the need for a distinct radically different, visibly-led, strategic, proportionate, holistic, woman-centred, integrated approach". Whilst the report focuses more generally on vulnerable female offenders, it recognises that a large proportion of these women are mothers, referring to the effects of imprisonment on their children, and recommending that these children are taken into consideration by the criminal justice system. For example, one recommendation suggests that primary carers of young children should only be remanded in custody after fully taking into account the impact on the children. The Corston report is useful for anyone considering the particular impact on children of having a mother in prison.

See The Corston Report below:

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This report, published under the previous administration, outlined the Government's commitment to "a coherent system to support offenders' children and families". It provided a framework for carrying out this work, detailing the key tasks to be undertaken and responsibilities to be assumed, at different points throughout a family's experience of the criminal justice system.

These tasks and responsibilities are assigned to services and agencies such as Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs), Local Authorities, Children's Centres, Probation, Prisons and so on. The report outlines why the framework is needed, citing the potential reduction of re-offending, the negative impact offending has on children and families and the adverse outcomes these children and families can suffer. The report also sets out how the framework can be implemented, referring to government policy relevant to offenders and their families, and existing practice models that address some of the needs. An integrated, multi-agency approach is recommended with joint working across statutory services such as health, housing, social care, etc, and criminal justice agencies.

Download the full report below:

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This report aims to inform UK policy making regarding preventing offending and reoffending, by bringing together published information and new findings on prisoners' children and families.

It looks at the past and present family circumstances of 1,435 newly sentenced prisoners. It examines their childhood and family background, current family relationships, and associations between background/family characteristics and reoffending e.g. school truancy. The report estimates that 200,000 children are affected by imprisonment. 74% of the prisoners involved in the study said they felt close to their families. The report concludes that maintaining family relationships may help prevent reoffending and therefore consideration should be given to how adequate the systems are which facilitate family contact and involvement. The impact that parental imprisonment and maintaining contact may have on the prisoners' families should also be considered further.

See Prisoners' Childhood and Family Backgrounds below:

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This is a report of the outcomes and recommendations of a number of projects run as part of a bid won from National Offender Management Service (NOMS) by the West Midlands.

The pilot projects were run in prisons and later within wider communities across the area. The aim of the project was to provide evidence about the longer term impact of improved contact with children and families on rehabilitation, crime reduction and safer communities. The project also aimed to provide a partnership structure and environment for future collaborative multi/interagency work. The areas of focus and improvement were visits (the need for efficient data capturing, visitor facilities and family information), education (the need for consistency, accreditation and family involvement in parenting programmes) and community partnerships (the need for raised awareness of the "hidden sentence" and training around this, building partnerships, working with prisons, school policy and outreach).

See Families Do Matter below:

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This peer reviewed article investigates whether children of prisoners have more convictions as adults than their peers whose parents were not sentenced to prison but did incur convictions.

This is examined using two longitudinal data sets: the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development and the NSCR Transfive Study between 1946 until 1981 in England and the Netherlands. Findings show that there was no notable relationship discovered between the imprisonment of a parent and the offending behaviour of their children in the Netherlands. However, in England, there was a connection found but only for sons. This can be explained in part by the criminality of the parents however in light of controlling various parental convictions and risk factors in childhood for example, a meaningful connection remained between the amount of parental imprisonments and offence rates of sons'. The study notes that sons' offending was only predicated by parental imprisonment after the age of 7. See The British Journal of Criminology to view this publication if you have a log in.

The open access version is available for free below:

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The Centre is delivered by Barnardo’s in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
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