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The rights and status of children of prisoners in Scotland

Nico Juetten, Parliamentary Officer for Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People
Child care and protection research recordings

Nico Juetten 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 effcets 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 coordintated 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 priviledge of prisioner.

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A transcription of this recording is attached in Word format.

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