Fatherhood has been the subject of growing academic, media and policy focus. In recent years politicians and social policy-makers have turned their attention to the role of fathers in the family. Stanley and Gamble identify two social trends which have placed fatherhood on the public policy agenda: the increase in women's participation in the paid labour market and changing family patterns, where fatherhood is 'often conducted outside of marriage and the residential home'. These changes have given rise to ongoing debate on family structure, family practices and shifting gender roles. However, it is 'absent fathers' that have recently come under close scrutiny: absent fathers have been simultaneously identified as both a cause of and solution to family change and 'disintgration'. This research is concerned with one particular group of 'absent (or intermittent) fathers', namely fathers who are ex-offenders.