JOINT

Children whose mothers are in prison inquiry launched

13 September 2018

The Joint Committee on Human Rights launches inquiry into the right to family life: children whose mothers are in prison.

Background

Each year thousands of children are separated from their primary carer (whether mother or father) when that carer is imprisoned.

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. These include being forced to move home, experiencing poverty, problems in schooling, emotional and behavioural difficulties and health problems.

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.

Send us your views

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is interested to hear views about how the human rights of children whose mothers are in prison are promoted and protected and in particular on number of points that may need more attention:

  • Whether human rights considerations are adequately articulated in current sentencing guidelines and practice?
  • Should there be a stronger presumption against custodial sentences for mothers (or other primary carers) with dependent children? 
  • Whether children whose mothers (or other primary carers) are in prison are protected by the current legislative and guidance framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children?
  • What are the most appropriate non-custodial sentencing options for mothers?
  • How data about this group should be collected and shared.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights invites submissions of no more than 1,500 words from interested groups and individuals.

Send a written submission to the Children whose mothers are in prison inquiry.

The deadline for submissions is 15 October 2018.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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