As part of Barnardos (Wales) commitment to make prison visits as positive an experience as possible for children, the organisation has published a report entitled Locked out: Children’s experiences of visiting a parent in prison.
The report has been published in the context of England and Wales where an estimated 200,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment every year and nearly 10,000 children visit a public prison each week. The report explains the particular vulnerability of children of prisoners, their absence from statistics and the effects of stigmatisation. The views of children and parents relating to their experiences, their concerns and also what they found beneficial in their contact with prisons forms the substance of the Report.
Arising from the research of the report there are six recommendations made:
1. All prisons should view visits as a family intervention, under the remit of reducing reoffending, rather than a security risk.
2. Searches of children and babies should be made more child-friendly and proportionate to the security risks posed.
3. Children’s visits to male prisons should be separate to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme, as they are for women’s prisons.
4. The National Offender Management Service should simplify the form and process for applying to the Assisted Prison Visits scheme.
5. Play facilities and visitor services within prisons should reach a consistent national standard, and the National Offender Management Service should issue guidance for governors, informed by advice from Ofsted.
6. Children should be permitted to bring homework and school reading books into and out of prisons.
The report is available in full here.