NIACRO has been working across Northern Ireland for more than 40 years to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities. As well as continuing to deliver the Family Links project, which offers emotional and practical support to families affected by imprisonment, NIACRO worked throughout the year to influence policy and raise awareness of the needs of children of people in prison.
Last autumn, NIACRO gave written and oral evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Justice on the draft Justice Bill; as part of this, the organisation made the case for families and children to be considered as indirect victims of crime and for child impact statements to be introduced for consideration in sentencing.
The following month, the organisation’s Policy and Research Co-ordinator Julia Kenny delivered a presentation on NIACRO’s work to support children and influence policy in Northern Ireland at a conference entitled ‘Changing Mindsets, Changing Minds: Conference on the Rights of Children of Offenders’ at University College Cork in the Republic of Ireland.
In January, the organisation held a ‘Justice Series’ seminar in Northern Ireland’s Parliament Buildings with the guest speaker Andy Keen Downs, CEO of PACT. He discussed the introduction of the ‘Our Voice’ children’s charter in England and Wales, as well as PACT’s ‘Left Behind’ campaign, and encouraged the audience to see what parental imprisonment is like through a child’s eyes.
NIACRO also published an edition of its long-running magazine NIACRO News in March which included a feature on its work to support families of people in prison and a guest article from COPE President Lucy Gampell OBE, entitled ‘Children affected by Parental Imprisonment: Needs, Solutions and Rights – the Evidence from across Europe’. In the same month, the organisation was represented at a seminar at the University of Ulster in June, where senior member of staff Donnie Sweeney gave a lecture entitled ‘Meeting the Needs of Prisoners’ Families: the role of the non-governmental sector’.
For more information, visit NIACRO’s website at: www.niacro.co.uk