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Prisons (Mother And Baby Units)

Volume 201: debated on Friday 20 December 1991

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the staffing complement of each of the mother and baby units in Her Majesty's prisons; and how many of these staff have appropriate qualifications in child care.

The staffing complement in each of the units is as follows:

ampmEveningNights
HMP Holloway
1 senior officer + 2 officers1 Senior officer + 2 officers2 officers2 officers
HMP and YOI Styal
1 officer1 officer1 officer1 night patrol
HMP Askham Grange
1 officer1 officer1 officer1 night patrol
At present, the prison officers who work on the units do not have qualifications in child care. However, nursing cover is provided on a 24-hour basis and the local health visitor attends each unit regularly. Each unit is being encouraged to make use of the facilities available in the local community, so that where appropriate mothers can attend social service run family centres.Officers from each unit have attended week long courses at HM prison Holloway devised specifically for staff working on the units. A full staff training needs analysis is being undertaken by the Prison Service College. In addition, HM prison Styal is planning to recruit nursery nurses to work in its unit in the new year.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women prisoners have applied in the last year to have their babies with them in prison mother and baby units; and how many have been successful.

The numbers of women prisoners who applied for admission to the units in 1991 were as follows:

Askham Grange:

Out of 25 applications received, only three were refused; in each case the mother had a history of child abuse.

Styal:

There have been 36 applications; one was rejected in view of her unsuitability for the mother and baby unit. Due to lack of space, two women have been put on a waiting list.

Holloway:

There have been 65 applications. There have been no rejections but due to lack of space two women have been put on a waiting list.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many places have been available in prison mother and baby units in each of the past five years; and if there are plans to increase the number of such places in the future.

The total number of places available in the three prison mother and baby units in each of the past five years has been 39. With the arrival of older babies at Styal, it has been necessary to reduce the number of mother and baby places from 12 to 10. The current number of places available is therefore 37. Consultations are taking place at Styal to determine both the medium and long-term requirements of mothers with older babies.A new purpose-built unit, which will provide an additional closed facility for nine mothers and their babies, is planned at Her Majesty's prison New Hall. This unit should be ready for occupation by the spring of 1994.