Prisoners: Mothers

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 24th November 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Fall Baroness Fall Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision is made for children aged under 18 whose mothers have been imprisoned to visit their mothers.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

Family engagement workers are in place in all public sector female prisons and meet all prisoners on induction to identify any support required to maintain or establish family contact. A new contract for family services was awarded across the female estate, excluding HMP Styal who elected to undertake a separate regional procurement exercise for family services, in October 2017. The new contract allows women’s prisons to work closely with a single professional family services provider to develop innovative services including those to support children visiting imprisoned mothers. There are statutory minimum prison visit entitlements and standards that prisons must meet for visiting families, including children. Prison Rules also require Governors to encourage and promote family ties. Women’s prisons are working to provide other support, beyond the statutory minimum, for improved family links. This includes family days, child-centred visits, homework clubs and specific relationship and parenting skills programmes. Family days can involve contributions from education providers, voluntary and third-sector agencies to support organised activities with the prisoners and their children. If they require it, families of female offenders can seek financial support for visits. The assisted prison visits scheme promotes family ties by contributing to the costs of prison visits by providing help with travel expenses to prisoners’ close relatives, a partner or a friend (if classed as a sole visitor) who meet the qualifying rules on income. Children (under 18 years old) are included, providing that their responsible guardian is in receipt of a qualifying low income benefit on behalf of the child and is able to escort the child to the prison.

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