Fighting against

the collective punishment

for the actions of one

Fighting against

the collective punishment

for the actions of one


Established in September 2022, the Collective Punishment Campaign (CPC) exists to raise awareness of and tackle the impact of parental imprisonment on families, and in particular children, in the UK.

Collective Punishment is a campaign founded and led by individuals with personal experience of parental imprisonment, fighting against the practice of punishing many for the actions of one.

According to Crest Advisory’s 2019 report “Children of prisoners: fixing a broken system”, an estimated 312,000 children experience parental imprisonment each year in England and Wales. Every day someone is being arrested, someone is going to court, and someone is going to prison. As individuals come in contact with the criminal justice system, sometimes, their family members and their children do too. In some cases, this can be positive and should be the standard, but for others, it’s negative, and that needs to change.

Despite parental imprisonment being recognised as an adverse childhood experience, it does not meet the threshold for children’s social care, nor does it trigger any other kind of support for the child. Arguably families and children are directly and indirectly experiencing negative consequences for the actions of one, a form of second-hand punishment, a collective punishment. Parental imprisonment generally affects families socially, financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

No child should be punished because their parents are in prison. The research and stories of lived experience show that there is a long-lasting and negative impact on many of the families of prisoners.

CPC exists to raise awareness about the research that has been conducted and continues to be conducted backing up lived experiences of families, whose stories we wish to share, unashamedly so. To advocate for conversations that will lead to a change in policy, either nationally or locally.

As a society, we need to ensure children impacted by parental imprisonment receive the support they should have, so let's make that happen.


There was no need to barge in the way they did. They were just all too heavy handed. It was absolutely horrific. I just cried. I couldn’t stop crying.

They were caring. They were gentle. They clearly didn’t suspect me of anything.

I relive the whole nightmare on a daily basis. I relive the arrest, the police being here, watching him leave, just the whole thing… I’m anxious, I don’t sleep because most days I’m awake at four o’clock. You know, it’s like your brain is telling you, you’ve got to be awake at four o’clock because something’s going to happen again… I get no respite from it.

It was four o’clock in the morning and there was a bang on the door. It was only myself and the kids here and the dog was going crazy. I got up and answered the door and there were six policemen stood there.

The whole family unit are treated like criminals. And I think it’s appalling. The way the whole thing was dealt with… I totally get why, in some circumstances, police officers would act the way they did with violent offenders or repeat offenders that are known to them and could possibly cause issues or harm… but for somebody who had never been in this system before, and to be treated like that, it was a huge shock to all of us.
I was told by one of the police that came to the house that he’s going to prison tomorrow morning. “Don’t expect him to come over. He’s not coming home for what he’s done.” Then he sort of laughed and said, “Oh, you must have known what he was doing.” And I said, “No, this is a shock to me.” And I could just tell by the tone of the voice, he didn’t really believe me.

…the police were here and the neighbours have been a bit nosy and, you know, I’ve seen them sort of looking out the window… that’s definitely been a factor in my emotions, the guilt and shame.


Children of Imprisoned Parents and Their Coping Strategies:
A Systematic Review by Stephanie Heinecke Thulstrup and Leena Eklund Karlsson

The Golden Thread:
Putting Family At The Heart Of The Criminal Justice System Centre for Social Justice

Ministry of Justice, Proven reoffending statistics quarterly bulletin, January to March, 27 January 2022. Ministry of Justice, Economic and social costs of reoffending: Analytical report. 2019. Page 10 Ministry of Justice, The Farmer Review: The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners’ Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime, 2017. Page


Children Heard and Seen

Children Heard and Seen is a charity that works to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children, young people and their families, and consequently to reduce the likelihood of generational offending, mental health issues and family breakdown through direct support for families and for professionals who work with them.

Corona Kids

We’re on a mission to create that circle of supportive light around children whose lives are eclipsed by parental or other significant family member imprisonment. We know that a circle of support makes a difference, we’ve seen it work. Together we can help.

The Ebb Leicester

Offers adult peer support groups for anyone aged 18+ with someone in the criminal justice system and Friendly Place Mondays Clubs for children with a family member in prison.  For more information visit The Ebb Leicester's Facebook page or email

Families Outsides

Families Outside is the only national charity that works solely on behalf of families in Scotland affected by imprisonment.

Himaya Haven

Himaya Haven CIC is a leading Birmingham-based organisation that concentrates on working with Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Communities (BAME) and specialise in supporting families of loved ones in custody and prison.

One Small Thing

One Small Thing is a women’s organisation, with a mission to redesign the justice system for women and their children.

Out There

OUT THERE was founded in 2006 by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul as a small local charity. We help prisoners’ families maintain contact with their imprisoned family member and in practical ways ameliorates some of the harmful effects caused by the experience of imprisonment on innocent family members.


Pact is a pioneering national charity that supports prisoners, people with convictions, and their children and families. We provide caring and life-changing services at every stage of the criminal justice process: in court, in prison, on release, and in the community.


POPS (Partners of Prisoners & Families Support Group) is a user-led organisation, that supports families through their contact with the criminal justice system as a result of a loved one’s conviction. We aim to help individuals overcome stigma, understand their identity, build self-confidence/skills, and contribute to a more cohesive society.

National Prisoners’ Families Helpline

(for England and Wales)

They offer support for families who have a loved one in contact with the criminal justice system.

Time Matters UK

Our focus is on helping children impacted by parental imprisonment, but we also try our best to support whole families which include parents and carers in the community, and parents who are in or have been in prison.

CPC is not officially affiliated with any of the organisations mentioned above. The information provided is solely for signposting purposes. If you are aware of an organisation that should be featured or would like to suggest one, please email us at

Useful links

Please note that the following list does not encompass all available resources. CPC neither endorses nor disagrees with the content featured; our purpose is to facilitate the dissemination of information related to parental imprisonment.

Barnardos (2016). Children with a parent in prison. [online] Barnardo’s. Available at:

Bellis, A., Beard, J., Pepin, S. and Jarrett, T. (2020). Parental rights of prisoners. [online] Available at:

Beresford, S., Loucks, N. and Raikes, B. (2020). The health impact on children affected by parental imprisonment. BMJ Paediatrics Open, [online] 4(1), p.e000275. doi: 

Clinks. (n.d.). Identifying children impacted by parental imprisonment: a pilot by Children Heard and Seen. [online] Available at: 

Jozwiak, G. (2022). Inclusion: Parents in Prison - Locked away. [online] Nursery World. Available at: (2020). Children with a Parent in Prison. [online] Available at:

Information and Research. (2010). Available at:

KSCP. (n.d.). Children & Young People Affected by Imprisonment of Parents. [online] Available at:

Magistrates Association. (2023). Minimising the adverse impact of parental imprisonment. [online] Available at:

McGinley, M. (2018) The impact of parental imprisonment: an exploration into the perspectives and experiences of children and young people affected.  (n.d.)Families Outside. Available at:

Ministry of Justice (2014). Prisoners’ childhood and family backgrounds. [online] GOV.UK. Available at:

Minson, S. (2021). New report highlights the issues faced by children with a parent in prison during the pandemic. [online] Oxford Law Faculty. Available at: 

Murray, J. and Farrington, D. (2008). The Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Children. [online] Available at:

Prison Reform Trust. (n.d.). ‘This Is Me’: A Child Impact Assessment Toolkit. [online] Available at:

Shelton, K. (2023). The Open University. [online] OU News. Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2023].

Shonaminson (2020). Children’s rights and contact with parents in prison. [online] Dr Shona Minson. Available at:

The impact of parental imprisonment on the mental health of children and young people. (n.d.). [online] Available at:

Williams, K., Papadopoulou, V. and Booth, N. (2012). Prisoners’ childhood and family backgrounds Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) longitudinal cohort study of prisoners. [online] Ministry of Justice. Available at: (2023). International Day of Parents: the vital importance of family relationships for those in prison. [online] Available at: (n.d.). Children with parents in prison | Info for practitioners | Parenting across Scotland. [online] Available at: (n.d.). Fathers in prison contact with children. [online] Available at: (2008). Children of prisoners - maintaining family ties - Contexts - policy and legislation. [online] Available at:


Funders and collaborators

Blagrave Trust

This campaign would have been possible without funding from Blagrave Trust. The fund aims to support young people who want to challenge and change unlawful laws, policies, practices, and cultures that have directly affected their lives and the communities they share those experiences with.

This fund embraces and acknowledges that there are young people across England directly affected by injustices who are tirelessly working to speak out against those injustices. We also acknowledge that there are young change makers who are working to see change in their environments but are doing so with little or no resources. The aim of the fund is to support young people who want to challenge and change unlawful laws, policies, practices, and cultures that have directly affected their lives and the communities they share those experiences with.

The Advocacy Academy

The Advocacy Academy is an activist youth movement of young leaders fighting for justice and equality. We serve as the political home for grassroots youth organising and the catalyst for collective action. Our Advocates’ lives have been directly shaped by living in an unjust world, and we exist to turn their anger into action.

We are young, dynamic, ambitious and unapologetic, and we are always looking for people to join us who are as passionate as we are about building the world as it should be.