The first minister Nicola Sturgeon – the leader of the Scottish Parliament, on the September 10th, 2015 came under pressure to commit to keeping an amendment to the criminal justice Bill as it progresses to the next part of legislation process aimed at helping thousands of vulnerable children whose parents are imprisoned. In response Nicola Sturgeon committed to ‘do the right thing by these children’.
It is estimated that there are over 27,000 children with a parent in prison in Scotland – but there is no research to tell the exact number of children that fall in this group, which is a global occurrence .
The Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale strongly demanded Ms Sturgeon to back an amendment to the Criminal Justice bill passed at Holyrood’s justice committee during that week which would mean they are counted so they can get the support they need.
Ms Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside, says “ this was the first time the issue of children of prisoners has been raised at First Minister’s Questions, so it’s a very big deal for us for us Families Outside , other charities working on this issues and the Children with parents in prison.”
Three Charities working together, that is Barnardo’s Scotland, Families Outside and NSPCC Scotland have spearheaded this amendment to the current Criminal Justice Bill to require a Child & Family Impact Assessment to be done when a parent is sent to prison. This Bill is not yet final, but the three charities are working very closely with Government staff on this to find a way to make it work.
Ben Raikes co-Liason of INCCIP and a senior lecturer at The University of Huddersfield UK says,”This is such a positive development – so good to see children with parents in prison getting the attention they deserve from Government .”