Pact Responds to New Report on Maternal Imprisonment

An important new report was published this week, Crest Advisory’s ‘Counting the Cost of Maternal Imprisonment’.

In response to the report, Pact’s CEO Andy Keen-Downs said, ‘The long-lasting emotional trauma of maternal separation is well-evidenced but frequently overlooked within the justice system in England and Wales. The disruption and restrictions on prison regimes of the COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse as children and their mothers have been kept apart by visiting bans. Whilst HM Prison Service has done an excellent job in minimizing Covid deaths, we know that the devastating effect of maternal separation on children will store up harm for them and for our communities long into the future’.

Pact, the major Catholic prisons charity, is absolutely committed to preserving vital relationships between prisoners and their families. The charity has Family Workers in all the public sector women’s prisons in England and Wales, either directly employed or via funding to partner agencies. In 2019, Pact provided pro bono support to Lord Michael Farmer, who conducted a major study of what works to support women and their children in the criminal justice system. Pact continue to press the Government for action on the recommendations of the report, which focused not only on the positive impact of supporting healthy relationships and family on reducing re-offending, but also, shone a light on the impact of this work on reducing ‘inter-generational offending.

Last year, Pact went a step further and secured funding from The Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust to employ two social workers to work across HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucester and HMP Send in Surrey.  Lord Farmer made a clear recommendation that all women’s prisons should have their own social workers, funded by the Government. Pact continues to call for this to happen, and the new Crest report repeats that call for action.  In the meantime, Pact continues to press ahead, showing how it can be done. The focus of Pact’s social workers will be on allowing more intensive support for women, particularly mothers, empowering them to engage in matters involving their child, speak for themselves at court, and to understand processes and how to work with them.

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis challenges us to ‘take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies.’ Commenting on Pact’s new initiative, Andy Keen-Downs said, ‘We are spearheading this work to share practice and know-how, in the expectation that the Government will implement Lord Farmer’s recommendations, which are repeated in the recommendations of this important new report’.

Read Pact’s full response: Pact responds to report outlining the true cost of maternal imprisonment | Prison Advice and Care Trust

Support for Pact by Catholic communities enables the charity to provide welfare grants for women prison leavers and helps to meet the costs of employing its welfare grants officer. 

Interested readers might consider writing to Victoria Atkins, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, to ask her to implement the Lord Farmer recommendations, and pointing her to the work of Pact.

Pact welcomes individuals who would like to act as a Pact link in their parish. You can write to Pact at parish.action@prisonadvice.org.uk for more information.