Family Relations

On 6-7 April 2017, the Family Relations expert group had a meeting in Helsinki, Finland hosted by the Criminal Sanctions Agency (RISE). The group presented the recent progress on the issues related to family and prison in their jurisdiction and discuss a report based on best practices. There were experts present from Croatia, Ireland, Austria, Romania, Czech Republic, Norway, Finland, Catalonia, Sweden, Slovenia, and two participants from the organisation Children of Prisoners in Europe (COPE). On 7 April, the meeting continued in Vanajan Prison (open female prison) in Hämeenlinna, where the prison governor talked about the female prisoners in Finland, and afterwards the expert had a tour around the prison. The experts presented the latest developments in their Prison Services and it appeared that the last meeting had inspired many to introduce new ideas and tools, such as: improved child friendly visiting areas, training modules for staff, information materials and brochures. Further work was done on the report of the expert group that will deal with visiting facilities, communication, community involvement, intervention programs and staff training.

Download minutes, presentations and other material from the meeting here. 


On 18-19 May 2016, the Croatian prison service hosted the first Family Relations expert meeting in Zagreb, Croatia comprising of 11 experts from European National Agencies (Czech Republic, Croatia, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Catalonia, Scotland, Romania and Slovenia). Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) were invited to attend this meeting to contribute ideas and experiences about the subject. The meeting was planned ahead of the COPE conference (20 May).

EuroPris6The experts presented their countries’ best practices, existing initiatives and projects in relation to the developments of family relations in prison services. The group concluded that it is essential to create European standards for prisons on family relations. A working group report will be produced based on a collection of best practices according to these five pillars:

  • Visiting facilities (physical structure)
  • Community involvement
  • Communication
  • Intervention program
  • Staff training

Meeting Report, presentations and all the materials of the Family Relations expert meeting can be downloaded here.

Background Information

The life of children is highly influenced by the fact that their parent is in prison and by the circumstances of the imprisonment, starting from the arrest, followed by sentencing and execution of the sentence. An estimated 800,000 children in the EU are separated from an imprisoned parent each year. The prison service should not take alone responsibility for providing opportunities for valuable contact between children and their imprisoned parent. A good cooperation of the prison service with the social network of the parents and social support organisations inside and outside of a prison are crucial for success. Family relations are also about the contact between partners that have been separated as a result of the imprisonment of one of them.

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