Part time custody welcomed

Prisoners’ children will benefit from the introduction of
“intermittent custody” as long as it is not used to
replace community sentences, according to campaigners.

Lucy Gampbell, director of Action for Prisoners Families, says
intermittent custody will provide opportunities for prisoners to
maintain family relationships while they are serving their
sentence, and this will reduce the harm to children.

A pilot scheme for intermittent custody sentences began
yesterday at Kirkham prison in Lancashire and Morton Hall in
Lincolnshire. Under the scheme, offenders spend either only
weekends or only weekdays in prison and the rest of the week at

A Home Office spokesperson said the sentence was aimed at
offenders who have committed an offence serious enough to warrant a
prison sentence, but not serious enough to demand immediate full
time custody.

Magistrates courts in the pilot scheme will be able to impose an
overall sentence of up to six months for a single offence, of which
up to 45 days will be served in custody.

Gampbell said: “This year over 150,000 children will
suffer the trauma of being separated from their mum or dad because
of imprisonment. Intermittent custody should allow parents to
continue to care for their children and reduce the harmful impact
that imprisonment has on innocent families.”

But she warned that  it was vital that the sentence is
rigorously monitored during the pilots to ensure intermittent
sentencing is not used by courts instead of community


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