PRISONS Minister Crispin Blunt MP will be in the North-east next week to speak at a conference on the families of offenders.

The minister will be joined by Guardian columnist and ex-offender Mark Johnson at the conference in Durham City organised by the charity Necpacs.

The invitation-only conference, which takes place at The Durham Centre, on Belmont Industrial Estate on Thursday, will discuss how family ties can be reinforced and family needs met, during and after imprisonment.

During the conference, a new guide compiled by Dr Christopher Hartworth will be launched for local authorities working with the families of offenders following research across the North-east.

Carole Payne, Head of Early Intervention and Partnerships at Durham County Council, who will be speaking at the conference said: "Children of prisoners are a particularly vulnerable group, and it is important that all agencies work together to support them properly."