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Prison Accommodation: Females

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 5236, tabled on 21 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, which women’s prisons provide facilities for women and their children to spend time together overnight.

Answered on

1 June 2021

There are six Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) across the women’s prison estate located at HMP Askham Grange, HMP Bronzefield, HMP Eastwood Park, HMP New Hall, HMP Peterborough and HMP Styal. MBUs are a national resource and enable mothers to maintain a bond with their children during an important period in their development and aim to reduce the negative impact imprisonment can have on young children, if evidence suggests it is in their best interests to remain with their mother.

The MBU also allows for children from the community to come and join their mothers in an MBU up to the age of 18 months. The environment is safe and nurturing for children, with development opportunities you would see in other nurseries, including toys and trips into the community. There is a national capacity of 64 mothers and 70 babies (to allow for multiple births). The national capacity has not been exceeded.

In addition to the existing MBUs, HMP Drake Hall and HMP Askham Grange offer overnight facilities that enable mothers and their children to spend time together. These facilities are available to all children up to the age of 18 years old. There is no additional overnight accommodation available at HMP Styal however, HMP Eastwood Park have enhanced the use of their MBU to provide an opportunity for risk assessed women to spend an overnight stay with one child, up to 12 years of age in the specifically arranged family room.

In regard to capacity, the HMP Askham Grange unit has five double bedrooms to accommodate large families, however only one mother can use the facility at one time. Although information is not held in the time periods requested, the facility was used 144 times in 2018-19 and 98 times in 2019-20.

HMP Drake Hall has two separate units that can accommodate one mother, up to three children aged toddler to 18 years of age, and one baby in a travel cot. For larger families, the two suites can be combined to provide facilities for up to 6 children, which is assessed on a case by case basis. Full information relating to the number of occasions this facility was used is not held however, the suite has not been used during 2020 due to COVID restrictions.