A UK Parliamentary committee has been considering the rights of children whose mothers are in prison.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was set up with a range of tasks, including ensuring children’s best interests are protected when their primary carer is given a custodial sentence.
The new clauses would:
1.) Require judges to consider pre-sentence reports, including information about children, before sentencing a mother; 2.) Require judges to take into account the best interests of the child; and 3.) Require Government to gather and publish data on how many children are born in prison and how many children are separated from their mother in prison. Currently this is not captured.
The committee did find that the number of women in custody has fallen by 10% since 2010 and Government investment in community services should see this trend continue in the long-term.
The report, entitled the ‘Children of mothers in prison and the right to family life: The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’ was tasked with looking at how the welfare and best interests of children are protected when giving custodial sentences to caregivers.
The report stated the need for children to be seen and heard to a greater extent when their mother is sentenced, recommending that judges must ensure that they have sufficient information about the likely consequences on a child of the separation from their primary carer. They recommend the judge demonstrate this information has been considered.