Prisons: Mothers and Babies

House of Lords written question – answered on 25th June 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Benjamin Baroness Benjamin Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women in England and Wales were refused a place on a mother and baby unit in prisons in each of the past five years.

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women currently serving custodial sentences in England and Wales have children under the age of 18 months with them in prison.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the annual cost of a place on a mother and baby unit.

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women gave birth whilst serving a custodial sentence in England and Wales in each of the past five years.

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

For the week ending 24 July 2012, 46 women currently serving custodial sentences in England and Wales had children under the age of 18 months with them in prison.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) began to centrally collect information on how many women in England and Wales were refused a place on a mother and baby unit (MBUs) in prisons from 2010. The number of women who applied for a place on a MBU from 2010-12 was 528, of whom 69 were refused a place. Data for 2007-09 are not available.

NOMS does not centrally record information on how many women gave birth whilst serving a custodial sentence in England and Wales in each of the past five years. NOMS is required only to collect information relating to pregnant mothers and babies in prison to aid the management of places on MBUs. Wider data on births during a custodial sentence are maintained locally; to provide information on the number of mothers who gave birth would require us manually searching an excess of 4,000 prisoner records in the 13 women's prisons in England and Wales to collate the information for the period in question.

NOMS also does not centrally collect information on the annual cost of a place on a mother and baby unit. NOMS holds information only on prisoner costs at establishment level. The average resource cost of a female prisoner is £49,000 per annum. This is based on the overall average costs per prisoner, for 2010-11, published as part of the management information addendum to the NOMS annual report and accounts 2010-11.

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