5th January 2006
It is well documented that the effects on family life when someone is in prison can be enormous, so it is vital to enable prisoners and their families to develop and maintain positive relationships during a prison sentence.
At the same time that the prison population has risen sharply (76,897 on 12 August 2005 compared with 66,932 in September 2001), there has been a steady decline in the number of children and families visiting, according to research undertaken by organisations supporting the families of prisoners. An example of this is at HMP Norwich where the annual number of visits fell by over 35% from 19,877 in 1997 to 11,960 in 2004, whilst the prison population has remained fairly constant. The reduction in the number of prisoners receiving visits concerns both the Prison Service and organisations supporting families of prisoners and all are keen to understand the reasons why this is happening. Following the publication of the report ‘Just Visiting? – A Review of the Role of Prison Visitors Centre’ (2002) concerns were raised in the House of Lords about the reduction in the number of people visiting prisons.
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