Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

More than 80% of men in prison suffered 'childhood adversity'

Credit: DPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/PA Images

Male prisoners are much more likely than men in the wider population to have suffered childhood adversities such as child maltreatment or living in a home with domestic violence, according to a new report by Public Health Wales and Bangor University.

The findings suggests that preventative action and early intervention to tackle Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) could prevent crime and reduce costs for the criminal justice system.

In a survey of men in Her Majesty's (HM) Prison Parc in Bridgend, more than eight in ten men said they had experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) compared with a Welsh average of 46%.

84%
Of men in prison said they experienced an "adverse childhood experience"

The report also found that prisoners with multiple ACEs (four or more) were four times more likely to have spent time in a young offender institution than those with no ACEs.

  • What is an ACE?

ACEs are traumatic experiences that occur before the age of 18.

They range from child verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse, to being exposed to alcoholism, drug use and domestic violence at home.

Children who experience ACEs are more likely to adopt health-harming and anti-social behaviours as adults, are at much greater risk of poor health throughout life, and may have greater needs for support from healthcare and other public services.

Nearly half of prisoners had experienced high levels of ACEs such as abuse, neglect and domestic violence in their childhood - levels much higher than observed in populations outside of prison.

Amongst prisoners we found that having spent time in a young offender institution and having a history of prolific offending or violent offences were all linked with even higher levels of ACEs.

These relationships add weight to the need for prisons to offer trauma-informed services to help ensure that those with ACEs are appropriately supported and are not re-traumatised when incarcerated.

– Dr Kat Ford, Bangor University

A third of all prisoners surveyed reported one of their adverse childhood experiences was growing up in a household where someone had been incarcerated.

These intergenerational cycles can be broken through health and criminal justice systems working together and helping parents provide a safe and nurturing environment for every child.

– Professor Mark Bellis, Public Health Wales