Close ties between prisoners and family members can reduce the risk of reoffending, a government-commissioned report has suggested.

In a review published today, Lord Farmer said family is the ‘golden thread’ running through reforms across the prison estate.

Michael Farmer, a Conservative peer, was commissioned alongside offender rehabilitation charity Clinks to investigate how connecting prisoners with family can improve offender wellbeing and reduce reoffending.

The government claims the risk of reoffending costs society £15bn every year.

The review heard from more than 1,000 men in prison and their families, voluntary organisations across the UK, prison staff and academics.

Farmer said the report is not suggesting families can change people’s disposition ’simply by their presence’ but that relationships are ‘fundamentally important’ if people are to change.

The Ministry of Justice said it has already started developing a strategy which will take forward recommendations from the review, including giving prison governors the budget and flexibility to spend resources appropriately to help prisoners keep family ties. Farmer’s report suggests use could be made of video technology, such as Skype, to help prisoners including foreign nationals and parents of young children.

Justice secretary David Lidington said: ‘Families can play a significant role in supporting an offender and I am grateful to Lord Farmer for his dedication and research on this important issue. We are committed to transforming prisons into places of safety and reform and we recognise the need to provide those in our care with stable environments, and opportunities to change their behaviour.’