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Prisoner Rights

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

The Petition of James Ryan Strudwick,

Declares that he has exhausted all the systems of complaints available to him to satisfactoraly resolve this complaint.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Ministry of Justice to amend “Prison Service Order 4400” to include nieces and nephews in accordance with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act as per the case won by: Boyle V UK 1994, 19 E.H.R.R 179 Op Comm. and end the deprivation of family building relationships.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.[Official Report, 15 January 2008; Vol. 470, c. 16P.] [P000106]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Justice:

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 requires the Prison Service to ensure that protective measures are in place to safeguard the welfare of children. As part of its commitment to this duty, Prison Service Order 4400 (Chapter 1) was replaced in March 2004 with protocols for staff to follow in assessing whether prisoners should be permitted to have contact with children, while taking into consideration the individual needs and best interests of the child.

Mr Strudwick has asked for the policy to be widened to include nieces and nephews, in order to reflect the judgment in the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Boyle v UK 1994.

The policy focuses on prisoner contact with children who are close family members. For these purposes “close family” includes sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandchildren, stepchildren, adopted children and foster children. However, there is also sufficient flexibility to recognise the importance of relationships with other children which fall outside this definition. This includes relationships between a prisoner and a child for whom they had caring responsibilities prior to imprisonment. Prisoners may apply for contact with any child while in prison, and their case will be assessed on its merits, taking account of any risks the prisoner may pose to the particular child. The determining factor will be a judgment as to whether contact—through visits, by letter or by telephone—would be in the interests of the child. Mr Strudwick’s application for contact is currently being assessed.