Conference 2017 – taking the outcomes forward
On 31 May this year, Families Outside hosted a national conference on improving support for families at the point of arrest. The conference highlighted clearly the trauma of witnessing a family member’s arrest and explored ways of addressing this.
Of particular note was Clore Social Research Fellow Jo Tilley-Riley‘s research into the experiences of children and young people who witness an arrest from their home. Recognising imprisonment of a household member as an Adverse Childhood Experience, Jo recommended a need to identify the scale of this experience; research to identify what would make a difference; a programme to support youth advocates; and training for the police. You can read Jo’s full report by following this link and view her presentation here. Meanwhile Ollie’s Story – a short animation of a young person speaking about his experience of a family member’s arrest – is available here.
Another highlight of the day came from Commander Greg McEachern of the San Francisco Police Department, talking about their ground-breaking work on planning for arrest when children may be present. With a focus on minimising harm, the SFPD avoids home arrests, ensures that care is in place for any children left behind, and trains every police officer to comply with specific protocols for arrest and trauma-informed practice.
Closer to home, Police Constable Tracey Gunn gave a personal account of her development of the ‘Meet the Police’ project at HMP Edinburgh, aimed at improving public relations with the police and reducing trauma amongst children and young people who have witnessed an arrest. Her work is based on the fact that “every child deserves to feel safe, loved, and have fun!”
We are pleased to be taking forward discussions on the main themes from the conference with colleagues from Police Scotland. These include:
- develop new Police contact card/information for families at the point of arrest and agree guidelines for use;
- agree protocols for arrest when children may be present (ensuring arrest takes place away from family wherever possible);
- raise awareness of national framework for Support to Families Affected by the Criminal Justice System;
- discuss possible extension of ‘Meet the Police’ type programmes with prison visitor centres and schools throughout Scotland.