Hidden Sentence


Hidden Sentence is a well known training course developed by Action for Prisoners’ and Offenders’ Families, now part of Family Lives, for professionals whose work brings them in contact with prisoners’ families, including children’s centre workers, troubled families workers, school staff, play workers, health visitors, and family intervention teams. This course gives a clear overview of the issues facing prisoners’ families and provides a range of strategies and resources to help you support them.

Our track record

We deliver training across the UK to a wide range of professionals working directly and indirectly with prisoners' and offenders' families including prison and probation staff, health professionals, schools and social workers. 

Feedback from delivery of Hidden Sentence to the most recent 60 delegates showed:

• 97% rated it very successful in understanding the impact of imprisonment on prisoners’ families
• 100% rated it very successful in improving their understanding of the prison system and the effect on family
• 98% rated it very successful in understanding the use and importance of knowledge about needs of prisoners’ families

Contact us now about our training

What does Hidden Sentence offer?

Hidden Sentence will give you a clear overview of an offender’s journey, how this affects their family from what happens on arrest to when they are released from prison. The training includes a range of strategies to help you in your work with families affected.

Our main Hidden Sentence course is suitable for any professionals working in the community and prison setting who work with offenders’ and prisoners’ families in any type of support role.

Impact of imprisonment on families

  • More than double the number of children are affected by parental imprisonment than by divorce in the family. [i]
  • It is estimated that more than 17,240 children were separated from their mother in 2010 by imprisonment.[ii]
  • Having a parent in prison approximately trebles the risk for antisocial or delinquent behaviour by their children.[iii]
  • 40% of prisoners said that support from their family, and 36% said that seeing their children, would help them stop reoffending in the future.[iv]

Who is the traning for?

  • probation and CRC staff
  • teachers and school/nursery staff
  • prison staff
  • health professionals
  • youth and community professionals
  • community and voluntary organisations
  • youth offending teams 

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the impact of imprisonment on prisoners’ families
  • Improve your understanding of the prison system
  • Understand the support needs of prisoners’ families
  • Understand the needs and wishes of prisoners’ families
  • Understand how to improve the coordination of services to provide more effective support for those affected by the imprisonment of a family member
  • Understand how to improve your own practice in supporting prisoners’ families

How many people can attend a course?

All of our Hidden Sentence courses can be delivered in groups for a minimum of 10 delegates and a maximum of 20. Hidden Sentence and Hidden Sentence for Parenting Practitioners are one day courses. 

Are any course materials included?

We can send pdfs of course materials, or if you wish to purchase the course handbook there is an extra cost to cover the cost of producing the handbook.

Are venue and refreshments included in the price?

Venue and refreshments to be provided by the commissioning organisation or for a negotiated fee on consultation.

How much does it cost?

Costs for a group training session start from £550 (ex VAT) per day depending on delegate numbers (course facilitator travel expenses are extra). Please contact us for a quotation. 

Please click here to view the full brochure. 

If you would like to make a booking, or require more information, please contact us using our Training Enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.



[i] Office for National Statistics (2011) Divorces in England and Wales 2009, Fareham: Office for National Statistics

[ii] Wilks-Wiffen, S. (2011) Voice of a Child, London: Howard League for Penal Reform

[iii] Murray, J., & Farrington, D.P. (2008) ‘The effects of parental imprisonment on children’. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 37, pp. 133-206). Chicago: University of Chicago Press

[iv] Ministry of Justice (2012) Prisoners’ childhood and family backgrounds, London: Ministry of Justice


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