Mother & Baby Units

The Griffins Society have published ‘Lost spaces: Is the current procedure for women prisoners to gain a place in a prison Mother and Baby Unit fair and accessible?’

The purpose of this study was to examine women prisoners’ experiences of the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) decision making processes. The research is based on semi-structured interviews with women prisoners and MBU staff in three different women’s prisons as well as with ex-prisoners. The study is limited to England and Wales.
Findings
  • Women are not adequately informed of their choices early enough and the MBU decision-making process is unclear and obscure to women prisoners.
  • Women who are in the criminal justice system, but pre incarceration, are not routinely told by lawyers, probation officers or social workers about MBUs. It is also clear that sentencing courts have little insight into what provision there is for mothers in prison.
  • For those remanded in custody, the information-sharing process is wholly inadequate, particularly for those who are not pregnant, but who do have young babies in the community.
  • If a prisoner makes an MBU application, she is given minimal information about the process. Her contribution is limited to attending an interview at which she is likely to be ill-informed and ill-prepared.
  • There is often a long delay between an MBU application being made and the MBU Board being held.
  • There is a lack of awareness that a right of appeal exists. The appeals process is inadequate and has no specified time limits or procedures.

Download the report and recommendations here