Pact is a national charity which supports people affected by imprisonment. We provide practical and emotional support to prisoners' children and families, and to prisoners themselves. Below is how we commit to work with our service users and those affected by imprisonment.
Children & Young People
Children are often considered the hidden victims of imprisonment. It is estimated that around 200,000 children a year are affected by parental imprisonment alone but as no agency has the responsibility to record them, we don't know this for sure. Pact understands how difficult this time is and provides support for children through child-centred projects, advocacy for children's rights and high-quality play provision in prison visiting halls. We also support parents and professionals to understand what their child is going through, how to talk to them about imprisonment and what to tell them.
Safeguarding Children & Adults
Pact takes issues of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults seriously and we have policies and procedures in place which support staff to act upon their concerns. Staff receive both internal and external training so that they are able to spot the issues and understand how to deal with them. We work closely with prison staff and other professionals to ensure that safeguarding is fully considered in all aspects of our work.
Recent assessment from a Ministry of Justice study has shown that 49% of female prisoners and 23% of male prisoners suffer from anxiety and depression compared to 16% of the general UK population (12% of men and 19% of women). Pact is aware that a high proportion of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system have mental health needs and we endeavour to meet these in the most appropriate way possible through staff awareness, training and accessibility of information.
Families and the Legal System
On a day to day basis, Pact deals with members of the public who have become involved with the law, many of whom are unaware of the complex legal procedures, jargon and their rights. We work hard to assist families in understanding their position and providing possible avenues of support by sourcing easy-to-understand information, linking with local sources of legal support and keeping up to date with relevant family law issues to the best of our ability.
Domestic violence or domestic abuse is physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship. In the UK, one woman in four and one man in six will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime. Two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. Over 750,000 children witness domestic violence every year, many of whom are considered at risk and are themselves being abused. Within Pact’s work with offenders and families, we are uniquely placed to come into contact with both perpetrators and/or victims of domestic abuse. As such, our staff receive specialist training to identify when a family may be experiencing domestic violence and the knowledge to provide relevant guidance to victims, perpetrators and partnership agencies.
Approximately 20% of defendants at court are female and there are typically 4,000 women serving time in prison each year. More than half of these women report having experienced abuse as a child, almost double the reported rate amongst men and female prisoners are typically three times more likely to suffer from depression than women in the general population, contributing to a high incidence of self-harm during their time in custody. Most of these women are mothers and as a result, more than 17,000 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment each year. Female offenders and their families therefore have specific needs that Pact’s team of staff and volunteers working across courts, visitor centres, probation offices and female prisons are well-placed to attend to.
Research and evaluation
Pact understands the importance of evidence-based findings that demonstrate good practice when working with offenders and families within the criminal justice system. We have commissioned leading researchers from universities, including the University of East Anglia and University of Roehampton and innovative think-tanks, such as the New Economic Foundation, to produce independent evaluations of our services. We continue to champion the importance of research in steering policy and the commissioning of services that will best serve the offenders and families that we work with.