Managers support children in establishing and maintaining contact with families, including corporate parents, and other sources of support in the community. Community partners drive training and remand planning and families are involved in all major decisions about detained children.

67. Children are encouraged and helped to maintain or re-establish positive relationships with family, friends and community agencies while in custody.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it

  • There is a strategy to help children maintain and enhance their support networks, overseen by a named senior manager. Children’s distance from home, expected frequency of visits, parental status and, where applicable, number of dependents is established on arrival and monitored thereafter.
  • Contact with family and friends is given a high priority by staff.
  • Where contact with individuals is not in the best interests of the child measures are put in place to prevent this. Children subject to these measures are appropriately supported by staff.
  • There are imaginative methods for encouraging family contact and opportunities for children to celebrate their successes and milestones with their family and friends.
  • There are effective links with youth offending teams, local authorities and other external statutory, community and voluntary agencies that assist with preparation for release/transfer during custody, and with resettlement after release.
  • Links and support services are available to parents and/or carers of children during custody and after release.
  • Families, including corporate parents, are routinely involved in establishment processes, including education, safeguarding, health care and resettlement planning.
  • Release on temporary license (ROTL) is routinely used to support resettlement goals, as well as to maintain links between children and their communities.
  • Children are helped to maintain family ties, and given help with any difficulties relating to contact (such as long distances from home), through regular monitoring at training, planning or remand management meetings.
  • Children who do not receive visits are identified and receive individual support and help to maintain relationships.
  • Children are helped to fulfil any parental responsibilities. Those undergoing separation and child protection procedures are supported.
  • There are appropriately skilled family support workers who provide support to children and their families. Staff supporting children to maintain contact with their community are well integrated with other staff working with the child. They contribute to meeting training/remand management plan targets.
  • Children and their immediate family or partners are informed sensitively of significant news about each other within 24 hours.
  • Subject to risk assessment, children can visit sick relatives and attend funerals.
  • Children are not deprived of family contact as a punishment.

Cross reference with: daily life – residential services; suicide and self-harm prevention; training planning and remand management.

68. Children can maintain access to the outside world through regular and easy access to visits.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Children are informed of and understand their visits entitlement within 24 hours of arrival at the establishment.
  • Children can receive a visit within two working days of admission and thereafter are able to receive at least three visits a week.
  • The visits booking system is accessible and able to deal with the number of visitors.
  • Visiting times provide for those who wish to visit at weekends and in the evenings. Visits start and finish at the published time.
  • Children are not deprived of their entitlement to visits as a punishment.
  • Visits staff are aware of child protection issues and there is a robust system for vetting and barring inappropriate visitors.
  • Closed visits are authorised only when there is a significant risk arising from visits as justified by security intelligence. They are not used as a punishment and allocations to closed visits are reviewed at least fortnightly.
  • Children and their visitors can challenge the authorisation of closed visits.
  • Children are provided with additional visits and/or phone calls if they have specific welfare needs.
  • Children who are primary carers are provided with additional free letters and phone calls, and can receive incoming calls from dependents.
  • Children can participate in family days and access to accumulated visits which enables them to maintain frequent contact with their families.
  • If visitors have not arrived within 15 minutes of the start of the visit, visits staff try to find out why and inform the child and wing staff.
  • Where required, general relationship counselling for children and their immediate family members is available, and children have access to programmes/interventions for improving parenting skills and maintaining positive relationships.
  • Children are supported to maintain contact with detained family members.

Cross reference with: early days in custody; security; safeguarding of children; behaviour management.

69. Children and their visitors can attend visits in a clean, respectful and safe environment which meets their needs. Visitors are made aware in advance of establishment routines and what support services are available.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • All procedures for children and visitors are carried out efficiently before and after visits, to ensure that the visit is neither delayed nor curtailed.
  • The searching of children, visitors and their property is conducted in accordance with the individual risk they pose, according to clear procedures.
  • Visitors understand why they are being searched and how the search will be conducted.
  • Visitors are never strip-searched.
  • Visitors are given information about how to get to the establishment, the visiting hours, details about what to expect when they arrive and information on making a complaint.
  • Arrangements are made to help visitors to get to and from the establishment if local transport difficulties exist.
  • Visitors arriving late can continue with their visit.
  • Children and visitors can give staff feedback on the visiting arrangements, suggest improvements and, if necessary, complain using an available complaints procedure.
  • A properly equipped visitor’s centre managed by friendly, helpful staff is available alongside the establishment.
  • Visitor parking and facilities are easily accessible to all visitors.
  • At all points when waiting for, during and after a visit all children and visitors have access to toilet facilities.
  • Visits areas are staffed, furnished and arranged to be welcoming and to ensure easy contact between children and their families or friends. Security arrangements in visits do not unnecessarily encroach on privacy.
  • Visitors are able to share any concerns they have about the child and visits staff demonstrate awareness of the risk of harm children may present to others. Concerns are appropriately recorded and reported.
  • Visiting children are safe and can enjoy family visits in an environment that is sensitive to their needs.
  • Visitors can buy a range of refreshments during visits.

Cross reference with: safeguarding of children; security; behaviour management.

70. Children can maintain contact with the outside world through regular and easy access to mail, telephones and other communications.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Children can make a free phone call on their first night.
  • Children’s telephone numbers are added to their PIN account within 24 hours of arrival.
  • Children can send at least two free letters a week and are encouraged and helped to do so.
  • No restrictions are placed on the number of letters that can be received.
  • Outgoing mail is posted within 24 hours (48 hours when received on Saturday) and incoming mail is received by children within 24 hours of arrival at the prison, including registered and recorded mail.
  • Children’s mail is only opened to check for unauthorised enclosures or to carry out legitimate or targeted censorship.
  • Legally privileged correspondence is not opened by staff.
  • Telephones can be used in private, ideally in children’s rooms, and there are sufficient to allow daily use.
  • Calls are charged at rates similar to those in the community. Children without telephone credit are provided with phone calls free of charge if they are distressed or have specific welfare needs. All children can make at least one free phone call to family per week.
  • Unused visiting orders can be exchanged for phone credit.
  • There is a notice next to all telephones advising children that their calls may be monitored.
  • Children can easily find the telephone numbers of outside organisations and know which numbers they are permitted to call.
  • Children can communicate with family, friends and community agencies using the internet (including email and voice calls), which is provided free of charge.

Cross reference with: children, families and contact with the outside world; equality and diversity; daily life – residential services; safeguarding of children.

Human rights standards

Children, families and the outside world
In relation to expectations 67–70: Human rights standards place strong emphasis on children’s ability to maintain and improve relationships with family and friends through visits and other means. Visits should be in as normal an environment as possible, and there are clear standards on searching visitors and monitoring visits as well as authorising children to leave detention for funerals or other humanitarian reasons. Staff should assist and support children to maintain contact with the outside world. See CRC 3, 5, 8, 9(3), 16, 18; ERJO 53.2, 55, 83–86, 89, 102.1; HR 59–62, 78, 79, 87(e); CPT 122–125; ECHR 8; SMR 58.1, 59, 63, 106, 107; EPR 24; BOP 19, 20.

See also standards relating to behaviour management.