Strengthening Families — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:25 pm on 8th February 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole 2:25 pm, 8th February 2018

I could not agree more. I could mention two local examples from Dorset and the south-west—the Footprints Project and Clean Sheet, a national organisation that operates in Dorset—that do exactly that volunteering work in prisons. We should also mention prison chaplains, who do so much in that area.

I am pleased that the Government have committed to supporting the Farmer review. I do not expect the Minister to respond to it in detail, but I look forward to the new prisons Minister, my hon. Friend Rory Stewart, grasping and tackling the subject, as I know he will, and updating us in due course.

I have two final points to make. First, greater emphasis and training should be given to prison staff, who should be encouraged to build personal relationships with prisoners and their families, and to encourage prisoners in turn to build their own relationships with families and significant others. Secondly, when considering a prisoner’s application for release on temporary licence, family ties and supportive relationships should be a consideration. It should be a priority to ensure that an offender can improve family relationships ahead of release when it is safe to do so. A linked issue is the location of our prisons; we should ensure that prisoners are located as close to home as physically possible.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but the evidence is clear. We know instinctively the importance of the family. I ask that the Government’s good work continue and that families’ importance be recognised, even within our criminal justice system.