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Plan to support children of prisoners

Plan to support children of prisoners

Children who have a parent in prison will be offered extra support at school under a members’ bill lodged at Holyrood today.

Labour MSP Mary Fee will this morning launch the Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment) (Scotland) Bill, which looks to identify and support these “forgotten victims”.

Under the proposed legislation - revealed by Holyrood last May - a needs assessment would be carried out following sentencing of a parent and any further support the child needs would be provided via the education system.

It is estimated that there are 27,000 children in Scotland affected by the imprisonment of a parent.

Fee, who is co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on Families Affected by Imprisonment said: “Our justice system today has forgotten victims – the children of offenders who are unseen and go without support. My Bill will attempt to make sure these children are given the support they need.

“When a parent is sentenced, my Bill will ensure a needs assessment of their child is carried out right away. It will also guarantee that the difficulties faced by children with a parent in prison are recognised in school.

“No child should be punished for the actions of their parent. We need a fairer system so every child has the best chance of getting on in life and this Bill is a step closer to delivering it.”

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland added: “We know from our work with families that children affected by parental imprisonment are an extremely vulnerable group who often suffer in silence, are unseen and unheard.

“We welcome the announcement by Mary Fee MSP to publish a Member’s Bill consultation which proposes ways in which children affected by parental imprisonment could be assessed and supported.   

“The Scottish Government has put a renewed focus on looking at radical ways to deal with female offenders, 66 per cent of whom have children.  We very much hope that what appears to be a growing cross party consensus on this issue is used to ensure that children affected by parental imprisonment no longer have to go unsupported and unrecognised.”

Read the most recent article written by Alan Robertson - Time for Michael Matheson to live up to his motto of ‘smart on crime’

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