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Prisons: Mother and Baby Units

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 52447, tabled on 21 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Pregnancy, MBUs and Maternal Separation in Women’s Prisons Policy Framework, published on 20 September 2021, what steps he plans to take to help ensure compliance with that policy framework in contracted out prisons.

Answered on

29 September 2021

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service’s (HMPPS) new policy was developed following a fundamental review that involved extensive stakeholder consultation, including with Health partners; a resource impact assessment and a data protection impact assessment.

1) As per 2.1-2.8 of the policy, healthcare is commissioned through the health sector. The role of HMPPS is to ensure appropriate access to healthcare – including information sharing and physical access.

2) a) Medical professional organisations consulted include:

i) NHS England and NHS Improvement (including the central Health and Justice Team, Clinical Reference Groups and regional commissioners)

ii) Local prison healthcare providers commissioned by NHSE/I

iii) Public Health England (PHE)

iv) Public Health Wales (PHW)

v) The Royal College of Midwives

b) Criminal justice non-governmental organisations consulted include:

i) Voluntary sector organisations including Birth Companions, Born Inside, Hibiscus, Barnardo’s and Family Action

ii) Academics including Dr Shona Minson, Dr Lucy Baldwin and Dr Laura Abbott

iii) Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and Probation (HMIP)

iv) The Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO)

3) Where a contractor fails to implement the policy, contractual action will be taken as necessary. Policy implementation in both public and contracted prisons will be supported by a variety of assurance structures and processes, to monitor compliance. This includes external and independent assurance by HMIP, PPO and OFSTED.

4) A resource impact assessment has been undertaken for public prisons as part of the development of the new Policy Framework. This assessment identified a need for additional funding to support implementation in public prisons, which has been provided.

5) Resource impact assessments were also undertaken for contracted prisons as part of the development of the new Policy Framework requirements. These identified that no additional funding was required to fulfil new policy requirements.

6) National data on pregnancy and births and Mother and Baby Units is published annually as part of the HMPPS Annual Digest: Data on abortions and pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage and stillbirth are recorded on healthcare systems as they are medical in confidence.

Information on a prisoner’s caring responsibilities and children living in the community is monitored locally by prison Governors/Directors to ensure appropriate support can be provided to offenders and their families. We are developing changes to the initial reception questionnaire to enable national data collection that can be published.