Not Guilty: Supporting Children Affected by Imprisonment

Children affected by imprisonment experience trauma, stigma, anxiety, and are more likely to engage in anti-social or offending behaviour. This event will consider what we can do to support these children, from improving parental contact to providing early, appropriate, and non-stigmatising support.

Redressing the ‘ripple’ effects of imprisonment

According to Scottish Government figures, 20-27,000 children in Scotland have a parent in prison each year. Research shows that common impacts of parental imprisonment include:

  • Emotional distress/trauma
  • Stigma by association
  • Concern about a parent/carer who now has sole responsibility for the household
  • Decreasing family income and increasing family expenditure
  • Loss of contact between parent and child

This can have a significant impact on a child’s life chances. They are twice as likely to experience mental health problems, more likely to be excluded, and three times more likely to be involved in offending activity themselves.

In April 2018 the Council of Europe issued policy guidelines aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of children of imprisoned parents. Recommendations included minimising the impact of a parent´s imprisonment on children by encouraging legal and prison authorities to consider more measures to ease transition from prison to liberty; and supporting imprisoned parents to participate in the parenting of their children, including via communication with school, health, and welfare services. 

Key issues we’ll examine with you

  • The rights of the child affected by imprisonment: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights and domestic legislation
  • The latest research and good practice on supporting children affected by imprisonment
  • Imprisonment and its impact on attachment 
  • How we can minimise the impact of imprisonment through improved contact between child and parent
  • Information sharing: taking a joined-up approach across services to supporting children affected by imprisonment

Who should attend?

This event will be of interest to anyone who works with families of prisoners either directly or indirectly. This includes: children’s services in the voluntary sector, public sector and private sector; schools and educational staff; youth offending team; family contact officers; prison and probation staff; anyone else who might have a role to play in helping children maintain family ties, such as foster carers.



09:15 Registration and refreshments

10:00 Opening remarks from the chair

Session 1: Protecting the Rights and Wellbeing of Children Affected by Imprisonment

A prison sentence can have negative consequences for families outside prison. Prisoners’ families, particularly their children, are often termed the ‘innocent victims’ of crime. This opening session will look at these consequences, our responsibility to act upon them, and the latest evidence and guidelines for taking action.

10:05 The rights of children affected by imprisonment

Nick Hobbs, Head of Advice and Investigations, Children & Young People's Commissioner Scotland 

10:25 Getting it right for children affected by imprisonment

  • What we know about the impact of imprisonment on families: including attachment and ACES
  • The Council of Europe’s new guidelines for protecting children with imprisoned parents

Lindsay Jessiman, Children and Young People Manager, Families Outside

10:45 Questions and discussion

11:00 Refreshments and networking

Session 2: Maintaining Family Relationships When a Parent is Imprisoned

Regular contact with parents is crucial to maintaining children’s emotional wellbeing and capacity for resilience, it is therefore important that everything reasonably possible is done to help families stay in meaningful contact when a parent is imprisoned.

11:15 “What About Me?” – The Impact On Children of Having a Mother in the Criminal Justice System 

  • The findings of a new report looking at the impact of maternal imprisonment on children
  • Recommendations to ensure children get the support they need 

Sarah Beresford, Associate, The Prison Reform Trust

11:35 Child sensitive prisoner visiting

Pamela Simpson, Family Centre Manager (Action for Children), HMP Grampian

11:55 Flexible approaches to transitioning from prison to liberty: home leave, open prisons, electronic monitoring

12:15 Questions and discussion

12:30 Lunch and networking

Session 3: The Whole Child

Families affected by imprisonment are often among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society and imprisonment frequently serves to further entrench their disadvantage. In this final session we will consider how services can work together to provide early support and to mitigate the impact of parental imprisonment on the child.

13:15 Supporting the whole family

Georgina Lyttle, Project Manager - Families Affected By Imprisonment, Circle

13:35 Building financial capability in HMP Barlinnie

Mandy McGinlay, Money Advice & Financial Capability Worker, Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau

13:55 The role of education

14:15 Prisoners as dads

Dave Devenney, Head of Programmes (Forces, Prisons and Faith), Fathers Network Scotland

14:35 Questions and discussion

14:50 Chair’s closing remarks

15:00 Close

*Subject to change


COSLA, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH | Map


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Discounted rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT per place (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, housing associations, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT per place (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For all event enquiries please email or call 0131 285 1635

29 August 2018


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