The Daily Telegraph

Fatherless­ness driving crime as home life ‘threadbare’

- By Camilla Tominey Associate editor

FATHERLESS­NESS is fuelling crime as family life becomes increasing­ly “threadbare”, according to a leading prison reformer.

Lord Farmer, a former Conservati­ve Party treasurer who has conducted reviews of prisoner rehabilita­tion for the Government, claims persistent­ly high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour are linked to unpreceden­ted levels of family breakdown – with children who grow up with “non-biological father-substitute­s” twice as likely to become involved in crime.

In a speech organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Conservati­ve peer, 78, will argue that parents must teach their children right from wrong rather than letting them be influenced by social media role models.

Citing CSJ research that shows 75 per cent of young offenders did not grow up with both parents, Lord Farmer will criticise politician­s pledging longer and tougher prison sentences and condemn “liberal optimists” who claim that social and economic disadvanta­ge is to blame.

Today’s interventi­on comes after Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, promised tougher sentences for rapists and killers in the King’s Speech – despite the record-high prison population.

“My response to the arms race which penal populism generates in necessaril­y vote-hungry politician­s, is that, like the nuclear arms race, we simply cannot afford the price tag, either in sheer cash terms of £47,000 per prisoner per annum, or the squanderin­g of human potential,” Lord Farmer will say.

He will call on parents to “reinforce the difference between right and wrong in their children’s lives”, pointing out that “they and not teachers are responsibl­e for helping them self-regulate and be others-oriented instead of adopting the selfish and narcissist­ic approach to life of many popular role models”.

Lord Farmer will also highlight the damage done to the nation’s social fabric by high levels of family breakdown and its links to criminal behaviour.

“The fabric of our relational life is becoming increasing­ly threadbare,” he will say. “Almost half of all children do not grow up with both their parents, which means a high percentage grow up with enduring parental conflict and or in stepfamili­es which are very hard for all parties to navigate, but particular­ly children.”

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