Together’s Director presents at Families Outside’s National Conference
Date: 4th December 2018
Category: Children of prisoners
"Children often know they have rights but they can be like 'clouds in the sky'. They can't reach them." - Juliet Harris, Together’s Director
At Families Outside’s National Conference last month, Juliet Harris highlighted the significance of the Council of Europe’s Guidelines to protect children of imprisoned parents. These guidelines – launched in spring 2018 – are based on the rights of children as embedded in the UNCRC and are clear that children with imprisoned parents are entitled to the same rights as other children. This includes the rights to regular contact with their parents, except if it is considered contrary to the child´s best interests. The guidelines set out children’s rights at every point that they might have contact with the justice system – including avoiding the arrest of parents in the presence of children or, if this is unavoidable, carrying out an arrest in a child-sensitive way. They also include steps that should be taken to minimise the impact of a parent´s imprisonment on children, such as exploring options such as home leave, open prisons or electronic monitoring. The guidelines are clear that children should be allowed to visit their imprisoned parent on a regular basis, without interfering with the child´s life, such as going to school. Furthermore, the facility where the parent is detained should be as close as possible to the children´s home and visits should take place in a child-friendly space. Children should also be able to regularly be in touch with parents via webcam, chat, telephone or other technologies.
Chaired by Bruce Adamson, Children & Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, the one-day conference explored the support available for children and young people affected by imprisonment as they grow older, from primary school through their teenage years.