Our recent report ‘Children on the Edge: Children affected by maternal imprisonment‘ makes eleven recommendations that identify areas of development needed in the impact that maternal imprisonment has on children. We will be including a few of these in this and future ebulletins.
3. Agencies that work directly or indirectly with offenders and their families require training and awareness-raising to ensure that children affected by parental imprisonment are treated sensitively and that assistance is available for prisoners in maintaining healthy relationships with their children. For example:
- Awareness-raising campaigns and training for those working with children and families to ensure they address a parent’s imprisonment as a key issue in assessing the child’s needs and what they can do to help. Children’s services, healthcare services, schools and other childcare agencies frequently come into contact with those prisoners’ children who are most at risk, yet the impact of a parent’s imprisonment may be the unacknowledged cause of other problems, and needs to be put higher up on the agenda. Schools are a key agency in providing both practical and emotional support for children affected by maternal imprisonment.
- Police officers should be trained and given protocols about how to behave when children are present – and to enquire as a matter of routine as to whether the arrested person has children in the house or elsewhere.
- Judges and magistrates training on the impact of parental imprisonment on children and alternatives to custody for offenders who are primary carers of dependent children.
- Training sessions for prison officers should include material on child-focussed approaches within the prison, basic child development knowledge, and child’s rights information, the impact of imprisonment on children and the particular needs of children.
Recommendation 3: Training or awareness-raising is required for anyone who comes into contact with, or influences decisions concerning children affected by parental imprisonment.