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Measuring ACEs in an offender population

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Measuring the extent of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in an offender population



  • Contact name

    Katharine Ford

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    Public Health Wales

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    0 years, 6 months, 28 days

  • Research summary

    A growing body of research has identified the long‐term impacts that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including abuse, neglect and growing up in a dysfunctional home environment (e.g. exposure to domestic violence, household member incarcerated) have on individuals’ life chances. The Welsh ACE survey identified that individuals who had experienced four or more ACEs were 15 times more likely to have perpetrated violence in the last year and 20 times more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lifetime. However, the Welsh ACE study was a household study, and the prevalence of ACEs in vulnerable and high-risk groups (e.g. prison populations) remains relatively understudied.

    Using a questionnaire incorporating a validated ACE tool, this study will estimate:
    • The prevalence of ACEs amongst an offender population;
    • The prevalence of ACEs experienced by the children of participants; and,
    • Associations between ACEs and criminal justice outcomes (i.e. sentence length; recidivism rates) and crime types.

    Offenders incarcerated in the research site who met the eligibility criteria will be invited to participate in the study. With the support of the research team, participants will complete a questionnaire capturing information about their childhood experiences, family structure, health and prison experience.

    Semi-structured interviews with prison staff will also be conducted to explore the understanding of ACEs and trauma-informed interventions amongst the criminal justice workforce.

    The research will contribute knowledge on the association between ACEs and offending, and will provide an understanding of outcomes for the children of offenders, thus identifying risk factors for families. The research will contribute evidence which can be used to inform interventions aimed at breaking the intergenerational transmission of ACEs, violence and crime, and reducing current and future offending.

    This research is funded through the Home Office Police Innovation Fund and South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (Reference 2016-039).

  • REC name

    Wales REC 5

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    22 Aug 2017

  • REC opinion

    Favourable Opinion