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Prisoners: Parents

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL9531, tabled on 26 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people in prison have dependent children with whom they were living prior to sentencing, broken down by gender.

Answered on

9 November 2020

The information requested is not held centrally and could not be collated without incurring disproportionate cost, as individual records would need to be analysed.

We acknowledge that distance from home can be a real challenge for the maintenance of family ties, and that this is particularly acute in the female estate. HM Prison and Probation Service is committed to ensuring that prisoners are accommodated as close as possible to their resettlement communities and families. We have introduced a range of measures to minimise the impacts of any suspension to visits, due to local restrictions. The Help with Prison Visits Scheme is also available for assistance where close relatives on a low income are able to apply for financial assistance on a means tested basis to facilitate visits to relatives in custody.

This included introducing almost 1,500 secure mobile PIN phone handsets to contact family, provided additional pin credit for calls, and introduced video calls which are currently operating in over 100 prisons across England and Wales.

Close proximity of is one of the key factors considered when choosing where to place prisoners, particularly for those on short sentences or nearing release, where they need to rebuild family ties, secure housing and health services and look for work. In the female estate, this is inevitably more challenging, as the smaller population means there are significantly fewer establishments more widely spread.

We are committed to tackling domestic abuse and to supporting vulnerable individuals, such as female offenders who have experienced domestic abuse, to ensure they can rebuild their lives. We also acknowledge the need for improved collection and transparency of data on primary carers in prison and their dependents in the community. Information on a prisoner’s caring responsibilities and children living in the community is monitored locally by prison Governors and Directors to ensure the appropriate support can be provided to women and their families.

We will continue to provide additional support to enable prisoners to maintain contact and support where prison regimes are restricted and will keep this under regular review especially for offenders and families with vulnerability issues.