AROUND 200,000 children in England and Wales will spend their school holidays this summer with a parent in prison. When a parent is incarcerated, their children are left behind in the shadows. Sadly, some young people never recover from this early trauma. Indeed, the children of prisoners are twice as likely to experience behavioural or mental health problems. Despite the potentially devastating effects of parental imprisonment on their families, no agency has responsibility for identifying or protecting these overlooked and isolated children or vulnerable adults. This is a tragedy because with the right support, it is possible for families to both keep in contact and to break the cycle of offending for good. However, with the right support and government intervention there is a golden opportunity to help turn life around for prisoners’ families. We are calling on the government to amend the Criminal Justice Bill so that in future courts will be legally obliged to ask if individuals being sentenced have children or vulnerable adults dependent on them, so they can be properly supported. To find out more about our campaign, visit: www.barnardos.org.uk/get_involved/campaign/releaserachel.
Yvonne Rodgers, Director, Barnardo’s Cymru