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Children: Prisoners

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what support the Government offers for children of prisoners; and if he will make a statement. (202992)

I have been asked to reply.

£5 million is spent each year to help offenders maintain positive ties with their children and families and to improve outcomes for the children of prisoners. Most prisons now have a visitor centre outside the gate, providing information and support for families. Over 100 prisons in England and Wales offer supervised play areas for some visits. Special visits are arranged which focus on the needs of the child. There is also provision for mothers to have young children with them in prison, where this is in the interests of the child.

Last year, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice conducted a priority joint review to improve support for the children of offenders. It concluded that parental imprisonment is a valuable opportunity to identify children at risk of poor outcomes and to offer them support. The findings, which were published in parallel with the “Think Family: Improving the life chances of families at risk” review, on 10 January 2008, can be found at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/~/media/assets/www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/social_exclusion_task_force/think_families/offenders_review_080110%20pdf.ashx

As part of the “Think Family” approach, which includes the £16 million Family Pathfinder programme, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice are exploring better ways to meet a child’s needs when a parent goes to prison.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of children in (a) Basingstoke constituency, (b) Hampshire and (c) England had at least one parent who are in prison in each year since 1997. (202993)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of children in (a) Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency and (b) Bexley borough had at least one parent in prison in each year since 1997. (203566)

I have been asked to reply.

Information on the number of children having a parent in prison is not collected centrally.

A 2003 resettlement survey of 1,945 adult British national sentenced prisoners showed the average number of children per prisoner was 0.87. Using this information it was estimated that during 2005, 160,000 children had a British national parent in prison at some time.

More detail on the 2003 survey is available in Home Office Research Findings 248 which is available on the RDS website:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/rfpubs1.html