Prison Sentences: Mothers

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15th May 2020.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the effect on children's social care services of mothers receiving custodial sentences.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We recognise that maternal imprisonment can have an impact on children’s social care services, and that children whose mothers are in prison are a vulnerable group and may need additional help to address both the short and long-term impacts that maternal imprisonment can have. Although the responsibility for the children of offenders sits with the Secretary of State for Education, we recognise the importance of joined-up working across Government and, in our Female Offender Strategy (2018), encouraged a partnership-focused approach to address effectively the needs of female offenders.

We recognise the negative impacts on families of imprisoned mothers and the heightened risk of intergenerational offending. As part of the Female Offender Strategy, we commissioned Lord Farmer to undertake a review of the importance of family and other relational ties for women in the criminal justice system. The Farmer Review for Women (2019) makes recommendations for improving family ties across custody and the community. As set out in the Department’s response to the JCHR report in the Right to family life: children whose mothers are in prison, we are committed to taking these recommendations forward to best effect and working with other Government Departments where needed.

The Review made proposals to examine and encourage partnership working between children’s social care services and justice agencies, including a Case Review of the social work processes that have led to children being removed from primary carers when they entered prison to be carried out by the Chief Social Worker for England (Children and Families). We are working with the Chief Social Worker and officials from the Department for Education to scope and deliver this recommendation, the progress of which has been paused due to COVID-19. Similarly, we will liaise closely as we scope are scoping the delivery of the Review’s recommendation for an on-site social worker to be part of the multi-disciplinary teams to act as a point of liaison with community-based children’s social care services.

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