On Monday 8 June at 2.30pm the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be hearing heartfelt evidence from children separated from their mothers in prison and then questioning the Minister of State, Lucy Frazer QC MP and Jo Farrar, CEO of HM Prison and Probation Service about the effect that the coronavirus crisis is currently having on the human rights of families where the mother is in prison, and how the Government is ensuring that the right to a family life is being upheld.
In the last parliament, the Committee reported that urgent reforms were needed to ensure that children, whose mothers (primary carers) were in prison, had their right to a family life, a fundamental human right, upheld and protected. The Committee noted that when sentencing an offender who has dependent children, judges must make every effort to understand the potential impact of a custodial sentence on those children, and the child’s right to respect for family life should be upheld and every possible and practicable step taken to ensure that they are able to maintain positive relationships with their mothers.
The Committee are concerned that the women who are remanded and sentenced to prison are likely to be at particular risk of Covid-19 related health difficulties, but also that lockdown has resulted in a number of actions being taken that will make the separation of children from contact with their mother even more profound for both the mother and child. These include:
- The suspension of all prison visits in England and Wales in order to minimise the spread of Covid-19; and
- Some prisoners who had been released on temporary licence and were having regular contact with their families outside of a prison setting were recalled to prison.
Monday 8 June
- Grandmother of five children whose mother is in prison, and two of the five grandchildren aged 10 and 6
- Grandmother of a 12 month old baby whose mother is in prison
- Lucy Frazer QC MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Justice
- Jo Farrar, CEO, HM Prison and Probation Service
- Naomi Mallick, Legal Director, Ministry of Justice
Image: Parliamentary copyright