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Mother And Baby Units In Prisons

Volume 569: debated on Thursday 8 February 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Which prisons have mother and baby units; how many places are available in each unit; up to what age babies are allowed to stay with their mothers in these units; and how many women are currently in mother and baby units and for what offences they were sentenced.

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Baroness Mallalieu from the Director of Security and Programmes, the Prison Service, Mr. A. J. Pearson, dated 8 February 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question asking which prisons have mother and baby units; how many places are available in each unit; up to what age babies arc allowed to stay with their mothers in these units; and how many women are currently in mother and baby units and for what offences they were sentenced.

There are now four mother and baby units in the female prison estate: Holloway, New Hall, Askham Grange and Styal. Holloway has places far 17 mothers with their babies, Styal has places for 22, Askham Grange can take a maximum of 20 mothers with their babies and New Hall has places for 9. In New Hall and Holloway, babies may remain with their mothers up until the age of 9 months. In the other two female establishments, young children may be allowed to stay with their mother up to the age of 18 months. The differing periods have been set in the light of advice from the Department of Health, which monitors regularly the treatment of children within these units.

On 31 January 1996, 58 women had their babies with them in the four mother and baby units. The offences for which the mothers were sentenced are shown in the attached table.

Offence type

Number of mothers

Violence against the person6
Theft and handling6
Arson2
Burglary1
Robbery7
Fraud and forgery1
Drug offences25
Other offences19
Offences not recorded1

1Include blackmail, death by dangerous driving, interfering with witnesses, illegal immigrant, handling stolen goods and deception.