Scotland ahead on support for inmates

    Prisons throughout the UK should follow Scotland’s lead by
    having staff dedicated to supporting inmates’ family relationships,
    says a report by the Prison Reform Trust.

    Family Contact Development Officers (FCDOs) should be statutory
    posts across the UK – as they are in Scotland – with ring-fenced
    funding, and a dedicated base and phone line, it recommends. Those
    filling the posts must have training in child protection issues, it
    adds.

    Two-thirds of female British prisoners have dependent children,
    while more than one-third of young offenders are also parents.
    Previous research indicates that prisoners who maintain good family
    ties are six times less likely to reoffend.

    Research into all Scottish prisons and five elsewhere in the UK
    reveal that dedicated parental contact visits are not always
    available.

    Prisoner movement adds to the problem, says the report. “While
    prisoners are being moved round the system and people are being
    held further and further from their homes, relationships with
    families will suffer.”

    • Keeping in Touch from www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk

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