COPE’s Norwegian member, For Fangers Pårørende (FFP), offers support and advice to families and friends of prisoners. The NGO’s mission is to provide transparency and improved conditions for their families. FFP provides advice and support by phone, email and at their offices in Oslo and Trondheim.
In 2014, FFP staff visited several prisons across the country to meet with prisoners and to present the work they do for families and to discuss the importance of maintaining family ties during incarceration. On these occasions FFP also meets with the prison director and staff. A longstanding aim of the NGO has been to establish outdoor recreational spaces (gardens, playgrounds etc.) which could be used by families in order to provide a more relaxed and natural atmosphere during prison visits. FFP recently visited two prisons that have such outdoor spaces in place.
This year, FFP received funding for its “Minority Project” which aims at extending their services to families of ethnic minority backgrounds as well as gathering more information about the specific needs of this group and raising awareness of these issues within the correctional services. The NGO has employed a Minority Counsellor to coordinate the project. The staff at FFP is looking forward to sharing its experiences with and learning from other COPE members who may have worked in this area before.
Some years ago, the Directorate of Correctional Services decided that by the end of 2014 all prisons in Norway (approximately 60 prisons) must have an appointed Children’s Officer. This is also to be applied to all probation offices. There is a political consensus that the scheme should be mandatory, but there are different opinions on whether it should be regulated by provisions given by the government, or through legislation. New legislation was drafted in 2013, but was not voted on in parliament before the change in government last year. FFP has been actively involved in lobbying and has attended parliamentary hearings in October and November to drive for the Children’s Officers scheme to be made statutory. The first meeting for Children’s Officers from all over Norway will take place in Trondheim in November 2014, and FFP has been invited to give a speech at the opening of the event.
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