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Women Prisoners

Volume 893: debated on Monday 16 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long each of the 12 women in prison with their babies for theft have been imprisoned; and how much of their sentences remain to be served.

I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the 12 women and girls referred to in my reply to his Question on 23rd April—[Vol. 890, c. 301–2]—The information is as follows:

Time served (including remand)Minimum time remaining
112 months2 months
26 months2 months
37 months3 months
47 months6–9 months*
59 monthsReleased
65 months7 months
76 monthsReleased
817 months4 months
94 months4 months
1013 monthsReleased
11†2 months4 months
128 monthsReleased
* This prisoner is eligible for consideration for parole.
† This girl was sentenced to borstal training and may be released at a date not earlier than six months nor later than two years from her date of sentence.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if there are any women imprisoned with their babies while awaiting trial (a) at the present time, (b) in the last six months, and (c) in the last year for which figures are available;(2) what was the longest time served in prison by a mother with her baby: what was the shortest time; and what is the average time, respectively;(3) what was the longest time, for each of the last four years for which figures are available, that a woman had been imprisoned with her baby; and what, in each case, was the age of the mother and baby.

No woman at present in custody awaiting trial has her baby with her. I regret that the rest of the information requested by my hon. Friend is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (11 if any special provision is made at each of the prisons containing women imprisoned with their babies for visits by their families and their other children;(2) if he will indicate those prisons which are used to accommodate women imprisoned with their babies; what special provision is made at each of such prisons; and if he is satisfied with these arrangements;

(3) what provision is made for the play and recreation of those babies/ children imprisoned with their mothers.

Sentenced mothers with their babies are accommodated in "mother and baby" units at Askham Grange, Holloway and Styal prisons. Each has qualified nursery staff, and the training provided includes child care and home economics. In addition to day nurseries there are outdoor play areas and garden space; toys are provided for indoor and outdoor use. In the normal way, visits are allowed at all three prisons once a fotnight, but additional visits for pressing domestic or welfare reasons are arranged when necessary.An unconvicted or convicted but unsentenced mother with her baby who is remanded in custody would be located either in the mother and baby unit at Holloway or in one of the specially equipped rooms in the hospitals at Low Newton, Pucklechurch and Risley remand centres and in the remand suite for women at Birmingham Prison. All unconvicted prisoners are allowed daily visits.There are plans to improve these arrangements by providing new purpose-built units at both Askham Grange and Holloway.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Repartment if he will indicate the age of each of the children imprisoned with their mother on 15th May 1975.

The respective ages were: 1 month—six; 2 months—two; 3 months—five; 4 months—three; 5 months—one; 6 months—two; 7 months—four; 8 month—one; 9 months—two; and 12 months—one.