Police boss for Milton Keynes holds parents responsible for children committing crimes

In an unusual Fathers’ Day message, police boss Matthew Barber has focused on the role of parents, particularly fathers, in stopping children becoming criminals.

The dad-of-two, who is Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley force, published a statement yesterday entitled ‘Happy Father’s Day?’ with a question mark.

He said he was thinking about absent fathers - those who through choice, neglect or conduct are removed from their children’s lives.

"According to figures from 2021 by the Office of National Statistics amongst lone parents, mothers outnumber fathers by nearly six times,” he said.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber has strong views about the role of fathers

Mr Barber referred to a study by Clinical Psychologist Jenny Taylor who found “very striking” differences between groups of boys who shared the similar socio-economic backgrounds but different family set-ups.

“In her study, 80% of the “good boys” (not known to the police, no trouble with teachers) had good relationships with their biological fathers. Whereas in the group of ‘bad boys’ (in trouble at school/expelled, criminal convictions), only 45% said they had anyone who they considered a father figure and just 4% had their biological father living at home.”

Mr Barber described a study by the Prison Reform Trust, which showed 76% of young men in prison in England and Wales had absent fathers.

He said: “This is not to say that the traditional nuclear family is the only way to raise children… There are plenty of families who make different household arrangements work, and of course only a tiny proportion of the population that commit crimes. Nevertheless it is frankly reckless to ignore such statistics.”

The police chief said officers work closely with schools to try to improving children’s life chances and reducing their likelihood of becoming involved in crime.

“This is of course crucial,” he said.

But he added: “I have long felt that we ignore parents at our peril. All too often we appear to have outsourced the raising of children to the state, expecting schools to do everything.

"Parents are responsible for raising their children, and to a large part responsible for their children’s behaviour.

“So whilst I am determined that we should do more to work with parents, to support them, help them and their children in order to reduce crime, perhaps we should focus particularly on the role of fathers.