It is one year since prisons in the UK instituted restricted regimes in a bid to manage the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is one year since many of the 300,000 children whose parent is in prison have been able to see their parent. A report, published 15th March 2021, highlights the experiences of more than 70 children and their caregivers during the first lockdown in 2020. Available to download here.
The pandemic has impacted on the rights of children whose parent is in prison. Their right to family life (Article 8, Human Rights Act, 1998)
I keep experiencing cognitive dissonance. It comes from reading government speeches and accounts that say one thing, set against a reality (much of which the
Lockdowns both inside and outside prisons look like they will be part of our national life for some time, and it is not too late for changes to be made which prioritise children’s wellbeing in conjunction with public health in prisons.
It may well have been a proportionate response to stop physical visits on the 23rd March in the light of the public health crisis, but the total removal of the right to family life through contact with their parent, of every child with a parent in prison, extending now for 100+ days, seems to be neither reasonable nor proportionate.
”when can I see my dad?’, ‘will my dad get covid?’, ‘will my dad be ok mum?’. I can’t answer. Not one of them. As a mum I feel helpless listening to my children cry, holding them at night when they want to be held by their dad. They kiss his picture every night not knowing when they will get their next real kiss or cuddle. My disabled boy is continuing to lose weight fast, not wanting to eat, can’t express how he feels. All he says is ‘Dad, my Dad’. It’s heartbreaking. If my boy losses his fight he will have been without contact for 10 weeks without him touching or seeing daddy’s face.’