Remand in Custody: Pregnancy:Written question - HL3955

Asked on: 05 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Remand in Custody: Pregnancy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pregnant women are on remand, awaiting trial, in England and Wales.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 19 May 2020

The number of pregnant women on remand is not centrally monitored. Information on pregnancy is monitored locally by prison Governors/Directors to ensure the appropriate supportive provisions can be put in place.

I am however, able to confirm that an ad hoc data collection exercise was undertaken last year, which found that at 15:00hrs on 28 October 2019, 47 women in prison self-declared as pregnant, including those on remand and who had been sentenced.

In July 2019 the Government began a review of pregnancy, Mother and Baby Units (MBUs), and Mothers separated from children (under two years of age) who are in prisons, which includes a strand of work on improving data collection. The review is due for completion later this year, and a report will be published in due course.

Section 5 of the Bail Act 1976 sets out the reasoning for refusing bail where:

  • there are previous convictions of a similar nature against the same victim(s) with similar characteristics;
  • there is evidence of undue influence over the victim, or evidence of ongoing violence or threats of violence to victim or his / her family;
  • any potential bail conditions would not be adequate to remove the risk of failure to surrender, commission of a further offence or interfere with any witnesses;
  • it is necessary for his / her protection;
  • the defendant is already in custody on other matters e.g. recall or a serving prisoner; or
  • the nature of the offence committed could lead to a risk of offending if released on bail e.g. where the defendant knows the victim or witness.

While there was an increase of 8% (520 to 559) in the number of women on remand in the year to March 2020, this figure is comparable with the 564 women on remand at 31 March 2018.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, NPS are currently running a bail information service in the 136 courts that currently remain open, with a particular focus on those with ‘protected characteristics’ which include women. This service looks to ensure the identification of defendants who might be eligible for bail, and to provide sufficient information to the courts to enable them to make fully informed decisions in each individual case. As of 11 May 2020, 121 bail assessments have been completed by NPS Bail Information Officers, a proportion of which will apply to women.

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