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7.4 Visiting of Prisons by Children


Contents

  Introduction
  Assessment


Introduction

  1. Governors/Directors of all prison establishments must have in place arrangements that protect the public from prisoners in their care. This includes having effective processes in place to ensure prisoners are not able to cause harm to the public and particularly children. Restrictions will be placed on prisoner communications (visits, telephone and correspondence) that are proportionate to the risk they present. As a response to incidents where prisoners have attempted to 'condition and groom' future victims, all prisoners who have been identified as presenting a risk to children will not be allowed contact with children unless a favourable risk assessment has been undertaken. This assessment will take into consideration information held by the police, probation, prison and social services.
  2. The views of the child or young person will be an important element of the decision regarding contact, and it is important that the child's views are sought. In the letter to the child's parent or carer it should be emphasised that the child's views should be taken into account. If a child is able to make an informed choice, these views must be considered and balanced with any potential risk. Children's Social Care will ascertain the views of the child during the home visit.
  3. Many prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) now have a duty to implement child protection policies, liaise with their LSCB, provide safe venues for children's visits and provide nominated officers to oversee the assessment of whether visits by specific children would be in their best interests in relation to sex offenders and other dangerous offenders.


Assessment

  1. The nominated officer of the relevant prison must contact a person with Parental Responsibility for the child to:
    • Seek her or his consent for the visit;
    • Confirm the relationship of the child to the prisoner;
    • Clarify who will accompany the child on the visit (must be a parent, relative, foster carer or employee of Children's Social Care);
    • Inform them of the requirement for an assessment by Children's Social Care.
  2. On receiving the request for an assessment, the social worker must:
    • Inform Children's Social Care for monitoring purposes;
    • Contact a person with Parental Responsibility for the child to gain permission for the assessment.
  3. The Children's Social Care assessment should establish:
    • The child's legal relationship with the named prisoner (only children in specified categories of relationship may visit);
    • The quality of the child's relationship with the named prisoner, both currently and prior to hospital admission;
    • Whether there has been past, suspected, alleged or confirmed, abuse of the child by the prisoner;
    • Future risks of significant harm to the child if the visits take place;
    • The child's wishes and feelings about the proposed visit, taking into account her or his age and understanding;
    • The views of those with Parental Responsibility and if different, those with day to day care of the child;
    • If it is known that the child lived in other local authority areas, what other information is known about the child and the family;
    • The frequency of contact that would be appropriate;
    • Who would accompany the child on visits and the type and nature e.g. quality and duration of relationship with the child.
  4. If the person with Parental Responsibility refuses to co-operate with the assessment and no information is known about the child, the nominated officer must be informed that a report cannot be provided.
  5. Where the child is known to Children's Social Care, information from records may be supplied with the agreement of the person with Parental Responsibility.
  6. The assessment must be completed within 1 month of the referral and the report sent to the nominated officer at the prison stating whether, in the opinion of Children's Social Care, the visit would be in the best interests of the child.
  7. A copy must be sent to Children's Social Care.
  8. If the social worker concludes that the visit would not, or may not, be in the child's best interests then the prison must not allow the visit.
  9. If the social worker advises that the visit would be in the child's best interests, then the prison's nominated officer should make the decision, following discussion with the social worker and after taking account of all available information.
  10. All requests for assessments and their outcomes will be reported to the on a quarterly basis.

End