Prisons: Mother and Baby Units

Justice written question – answered on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on what date his Department ceased to collect data on the number of women who had given birth while serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (also in Government Equalities Office), Minister of State (Government Equalities Office) (also in the Ministry of Justice)

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) withdrew the mother and baby unit (MBU) database from service in April 2009, as over time the data collected and the database itself had become distorted.

The database's primary purpose was to collect information required to centrally manage and monitor demand for places in MBUs. Revised data requirements and a new reporting system have been introduced to fulfil this function.

The database was also used to centrally record a range of information in order to answer queries about wider maternity-related issues. This data continues to be recorded locally for operational purposes. Given the level of public and parliamentary interest in this field, further work is being undertaken to examine the feasibility of developing a new central collection system. This work will not be completed until later this year, but a significant amount of the data should be available from early summer. Every effort will be made to consolidate historical data as far as possible.

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