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Jan 6, 2012

Nico Juetten, Parliamentary Officer for Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People discusses the findings of work undertaken to explore the rights and status of the children of prisoners in Scotland. Not seen, not heard, not guilty: Review 2011 reports on a review of progress since a previous research report was published in 2008. Drawing on desk-based research and a collation of information from relevant agencies and organisations with a perspective on the effects of parental imprisonment, the more recent review grouped the original 28 recommendations into four themes - the rights of children in criminal justice debates; the rights and status of children in decision-making about parents who offend; support for children of prisoners; and contact and visiting during parental imprisonment - which Nico talks about briefly here.

Substantial progress has been made since 2008 but it is variable and patchy. It is widely recognised parental imprisonment and its impact on children is a legitimate and valid issue to take into account. However, the review also found that there remain considerable challenges in changing practice and organisational cultures, and that while every organisation and institution addressed in this review can, and must make progress for the children of offenders, it is clear that coordinated work needs to be undertaken as no one agency can tackle the multi-faceted issues facing this sizeable and often vulnerable group. Nico outlines aspects of policy, procedure and practice that could be changed to improve the experiences of children and young people whose parents are involved with the criminal justice system, such as considering the 'best interests of the child' when sentencing options are being considered and the importance of prioritising 'bonding' visits as the right of a child rather than considering them a privilege of prisoner.

Find out more about the research

Further resources

  • Nico mentions the 'Angiolini Commission'. Find out more: Improving outcomes for female offenders
  • Families Outside is a national charity in Scotland that works solely to support the families of people involved in the criminal justice system. Their website also hosts resources that may be useful for practice with children and their families.

Transcript of episode

Music Credit: Increase the Dosage by Revolution void