The Jersey Children's Commissioner has reported family play sessions at La Moye prison have been hugely successful.
The 2022 report says the play programme at the prison gives children the right to see their parents who are in jail.
Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) says children must not be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interest.
The Children's Commissioner is an independent body, set up in 2019, that focuses on the protection of children and young people's rights in the island.
Play sessions began in January 2022 and were assessed until the last visit on 30 December 2022 to see how well they worked.
It has had an overwhelmingly positive response from the prisoners and their families.
Activities involve arts and crafts, such as taking polaroids together and decorating picture frames, growing sunflowers and message/memory/worry box making.
“Thank you for the things I can keep with me, I like to look at them in my cell”
“I like making things for my Daddy”
Children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, as young as six months and as old as 18, attend the sessions on Friday evenings.
Pause for Play is a more relaxed alternative to typical visits and is in a larger, family-friendly space.
“These are memories that will last a lifetime and will certainly be seen as a fun day with Dad”
“She (age 3) doesn’t understand the situation, so it’s important to make it as normal as possible, to be able to do different activities, the photos are special”
Meanwhile, the Children's Commissioner reports opening 97 cases and enquiries into children's rights and closing 64 last year.
Most cases and enquiries were found in education (24) and children's social care (23).
The commissioner conducted reviews into the care of children at establishments, including Greenfields and other residential homes.
Elsewhere in its remit, the group was pleased to report that more Jersey schools are joining the UNICEF Right Respecting Schools programme.
42 out of the 43 island schools are working towards the gold standard.
It is the fourth consecutive year the programme has been funded and facilitated in Jersey.
UNICEF Right Respecting Schools work to create a safe and inspiring space for children to learn, where they are respected and their talents are nurtured.
There are three stages to the award:
Bronze: Rights Committed - 19 schools:
- This is the planning stage and the first stage of the award.
- Schools outline their commitments to their children and how it intends to become rights respecting.
- It takes three to six months for a school to achieve Bronze standard.
Silver: Rights Aware - 18 schools:
- Silver awards are given to schools showing good progress towards creating school policies around children's rights.
- Schools will also show it through their practices, policies and ethos.
Gold: Rights Respecting - 3 schools:
- This is the final and highest stage of the UNICEF RRS Award.
- Schools at this level show they have fully embedded children's rights in every aspect of schooling and student life.
This year, the Children's Commissioner plans on doing more research into secure accommodation in Jersey.
Alongside that, it wants to raise awareness for good practice and the best interest of children within the justice system and in criminal, public and family proceedings.
It will also check the progress made by the government since formal recommendations were made in 2019.
In the 2022 report, the independent body also recommends the government:
- Implements the Children (Convention Rights) (Jersey) Law 2022;
- Create an education and training programme on Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAs) for government ministers and senior officials;
- Publish and implement a child young and justice strategy;
- Review the criteria for government departments' applications for Secure Accommodation Orders for the deprivation of a child's freedom.
- Develop a legislative framework to ensure a child rights-based approach is taken when supporting children who are in care off-island and that it is only chosen as a last resort;
- Ensure all ministers and senior officials get Child Rights Approach training.