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 Project Happy: Help and Protect Prisoners Youngsters

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Location : Glasgow
Registration date : 2008-09-03

PostSubject: Project Happy: Help and Protect Prisoners Youngsters   Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:04 am

Project Happy, founded in September 2004 by Samantha Gillan, gives advice, counselling and free bus rides to families from all over Scotland who are visiting prisoners at HMP Kilmarnock and Shotts. We seek to improve children's visiting conditions in prisons and support the rights of children to maintain contact with an imprisoned parent.

The projects intentions are all in the name, Helping And Protecting Prisoners' Youngsters (HAPPY).

Project Happy is run by Prisoners children for prisoners children, this gives us a true understanding of the impact a parent incarcerated can have on a child.

Children and young people can call our advice line FREE on
0800 458 3872
Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm


HAPPY BUS SERVICE

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:

http://www.h-a-p-p-y.org.uk/
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PostSubject: Re: Project Happy: Help and Protect Prisoners Youngsters   Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:39 am

Prisoners’ families protest against new ID visit rule
Need for photographic identification could be a bar to ­underprivileged visitors
By John Bynorth, Home Affairs Editor

THE SCOTTISH Prison Service (SPS) has been accused of making jails less accessible for the families and friends of inmates, after allegedly rolling out a system of compulsory photographic ID for visits without consulting welfare groups.

Organisations that support offenders' families have criticised plans to turn away visitors without acceptable photo ID such as a passport or driving licence, or who refuse to allow staff to photograph them beforehand, after the National Visits Administration System comes into force on September 1.

The prison service hopes the system, to be rolled out across the country, will speed up the processing of visitors and eliminate people passing themselves off as other individuals to commit crimes by using false or stolen birth certificates and utility bills to gain visits.


Families Outside, the charity which helps hundreds of families of prisoners, warned that people could be forced to cancel visits if they cannot afford the £72 cost of a passport, or other approved photographic ID, such as the privately run CitizenCard scheme, which costs between £10 and £40.

They are also angry over the failure to consult, after Nacro, an ex-offenders' charity for England and Wales, found that former inmates who maintained contact with their families were six times less likely to reoffend.

Dr Nancy Loucks, chief executive of Families Outside, said: "We have had a lot of queries about this because it's a very expensive business for people to visit prisons in the first place.

"I understand why the authorities want to be sure who the visitors are, but the additional expense of photo identification for people who are unlikely to have a passport or driving licence will cause considerable strain on their finances.

"Half of prisoners lose contact with their families by going into prison anyway, and are six times less likely to reoffend by maintaining contact. The last thing you want to do is put up another barrier to family contact."

Loucks said that confusion had arisen over the varying demands by prisons for ID. Some prisons already enforce photographic ID, while others rely on birth certificates and give visitors a chance to obtain the necessary documentation.

She added: "The people visiting inmates are the least likely to have these types of identification. They are also the least likely to be able to afford it, while living on benefits and spending a lot of money travelling to prisons."

Keith Simpson, head of development and research at Sacro, another charity that works with offenders, added: "It's disturbing the SPS should consider introducing photo ID without any consultation with Families Outside to understand the impact it might have on prisoners' families and relatives."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie added: "The connection a prisoner has with their family is the one thing that will often help them not reoffend. We also need to make sure we do not make a bad situation worse for people who are not guilty of anything."

Dumfries Prison has leaflets in its visitor area informing people of the changes, but according to Families Outside, the document is not available in braille. It has also provided CitizenCard forms for inmates to pass them on to their families.

Kevin Donald, 36, from Kilmarnock, who has no passport and relies on his birth certificate to visit his brother-in-law, who is held in Dumfries, said: "It's a basic human right to visit people in jail, and the prison service is making it more difficult. The cost of visiting someone is already very expensive, particularly for those of us with young families, without this extra cost.

"I've nothing to hide by refusing to have my photograph taken, but what's to say the prison will destroy the pictures if we request it?"

Although children under the age of 16 will not need to provide photographic identification, the information leaflet hints that young people will be affected as it states that young people without a verifiable photographic ID can apply for a Young Scot card, a voluntary ID scheme run for 11 to 26-year-olds.

The issue of access for children to parents in prison is a sensitive one for the SPS and the Scottish government.

In February, Scotland's commissioner for children and young people, Kathleen Marshall, urged action from the authorities in a report that described them as the "forgotten victims of crime" and found their access to an imprisoned parent might be ended if their visitors' privileges are reduced as a punishment.

Clive Fairweather, the former chief inspector of Scotland's prisons, said the scheme would cut crime and added: "This has been coming for a long time. It may not be their families, but people are often visited by people involved in planning crimes. We will increasingly see prisons requiring fingerprint scanning and storing of biometric details."

A prison service spokeswoman said it was not clear when each prison planned to roll out the photographic ID system, but added: "We always retain records of visits, but this means it will be electronically monitored to keep up with the demands of the 21st century. If visitors want their photograph deleted, it will be done after the visit."

To apply for a Citizencard you can get Application forms from your local shops, or the Prison you are visiting.
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