Joint Committee on Human Rights

The right to family life: children whose mothers are in prison inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published; Government response received.

Report published


Government Response


The Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes report on the Right to family life: Children whose mothers are in prison. After hearing powerful evidence, MPs and Peers propose urgent reform to data collection, sentencing, support for children, and pregnancy and maternity for mothers in prison

Scope of the inquiry

Research suggests that only five per cent of children with a mother in prison remain in the family home during their mother’s imprisonment; and only nine per cent are cared for by their fathers, whereas most children with an imprisoned father remain with their mother.

Research shows that even short periods of parental imprisonment can have a wide range of negative impacts on children.

The Government is taking a number of welcome steps both in its response to the Farmer Review and in the Female Offender Strategy to address some of the human rights issues arising for children of prisoners. The Committee wants to make sure the Government gets this right.

When the Court sentences a mother or primary carer their children’s Article 8 ECHR rights are engaged as well as their own. Articles 2 (non-discrimination), 3 (best interests of the child), 12 (respect for the views of the child) and 20 (children deprived of family environment) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are also relevant.

Terms of reference: The right to family life: children whose mothers are in prison

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