Support for Prison Visitors’ Centres
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Brigadier Hugh Monro, is calling for a visitors’ centre at every prison as part of his commitment to improving support to families affected by imprisonment.
Families Outside has been supporting his call for action, as visitors’ centres can offer a neutral venue for families to get the information & support they need to cope with a family member’s imprisonment. Such centres have a range of designs and models for support as well as diverse funding structures. Our publication of In Brief 5, ‘Prison Visitors’ Centres: An Ongoing Debate’, outlines these differences and discusses the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Importantly, however, prison visitors’ centres share the aim of supporting children and families who go there, ideally advocating for visitors and creating links to community-based services.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill’s recent visit to the Crossreach Prison Visitors’ Centre, where Families Outside now has a Family Support Worker, generated further interest in this model.
Such centres show benefits well beyond the criminal justice agenda and are beginning to attract interest from workers in health, education and community safety.