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 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 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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This study uses in depth qualitative interviews with family members to look into the impacts a custodial sentence has on families and how they respond to financial, emotional and social challenges. The study also conducts an evaluation on support services for families of prisoners. The report summarises that disadvantage associated with imprisonment included high rates of depression, physical illness and housing disruption. There are also key findings around financial instability, barriers to employment and child poverty. The report notes that maintaining family ties with the prisoner are financially draining despite families being officially recognised as key in prisoners' rehabilitation. The study also uncovers disadvantage with regard to families of foreign nationals who may have no access to public recourse and could face deportation. Conclusions are that a combination of criminal justice and social welfare policy puts children in particular into poverty, at a disadvantage and into exclusion with the main reason for this being welfare benefit dependence which amounts to below the Government poverty level. The study looks into the The New Deal for Lone Parents (a welfare to work initiative) and its failing to take responsibility of and priority given to care for Children with a family member in prison into account. The study also notes concern around the limitations of statutory and voluntary organisations (especially those based in the community) due to the commissioning aspect of the then emerging NOMS. See Poverty and Disadvantage below:
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This research looks at whether parental imprisonment causes children to develop poor mental health and antisocial behaviour, and whether certain characteristics (of children, prison, parents and wider social and penal settings) have effects on the relationship between the two. The researchers looked at 16 previous studies which compared children with and without parents in prison, but who had mental health outcomes. The studies chosen were either representative of the general population of children or the population of children of prisoners, so that fair conclusions could be drawn. The findings show that children of prisoners are at twice the risk of poor mental health and antisocial problems and all but one of the studies analysed, showed the increase in such outcomes due to parental imprisonment. The fact that studies often did not control for factors such as parental criminality, previous behaviour of the children, mean that causal relationships are hard to formulate. See Effects of Parental Imprisonment below:
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You will need to become a member of Wiley Online Library to access the full article or request it for free from the authors via Researchgate. This article is about research conducted in the USA. It notes that there is little known about the experiences of families affected by imprisonment despite there being millions of children who have a parent in prison worldwide. There were 56 interviews conducted with caregivers who were visiting a family member in prison during children's visiting hours. The interviews gathered information around family, health, economics, and the legal aspects of the imprisonment. The interviews were conducted within a conceptual framework that acknowledged the losses associated with a parent's imprisonment. The study revealed that the majority of families were economically strained before the imprisonment of a family member and the most vulnerable of those became worse off afterwards. Other issues revealed concern parenting, emotional stress and concern around loss of involvement between the child and their imprisoned parent. The article makes recommendations for US policy. View Saturday Morning at the Jail here. Request Saturday morning at the jail for free via Researchgate below:
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This peer reviewed research was conducted in light of the large numbers of children who experience parental imprisonment internationally and the difficulties this entails e.g. separation, stigma, loneliness, confusion, financial difficulties, unstable childcare, parenting challenges and movement out of homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Further such children often have numerous stressful events in their lives before their parent goes inside. Theoretically, the combination of these things leads to children with parents inside being at risk of adverse behavioural outcomes. This report uses meta-analysis to systematically review 40 studies to synthesise empirical evidence on associations between parental imprisonment and children's behavioural outcomes. The results show that the children with a parent in prison were at higher risk of antisocial behaviour but not for mental health issues, drug use or poor educational performance. Studies where parental criminality or children's antisocial behaviour was controlled showed that, approximatley, 10% increased risk for antisocial behaviour amongst children with imprisoned parents compared to those whose parents were free. The study notes the poor methodological quality of the studies reviewed and calls for more longitudinal study and thorough tests of causal effects of parental imprisonment. See this review and analysis of children's behaviour after parental incarceration or download report below: Click here

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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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