Probation conference hears the impact of custody on the children left behind

Napo 2022

Have you ever thought about the impact on a child when the Police raid their home seeking to arrest a parent? Or the ongoing impact on a child who has or had a parent serving a prison sentence?

Sarah Burrows became aware of the impact while working as a manager of a Youth Offending Service leading her to set up the charity ‘Children Heard and Seen.’

The story that stayed with me was that told of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. Arthur’s mother had been imprisoned and his father had blocked contact between the two. The Children and Family Court Advice and Support Service (CAFCASS) became involved as they do in an attempt to resolve such situations. What I hadn’t expected when hearing Arthur’s story was that Arthur was then murdered by his father.

Arthur’s case, the most tragic, highlighted the impact of custody on a child who loses their primary carer due to imprisonment. His mother had committed a serious offence which was only to be satisfied with a custodial sentence however the impact on Arthur was that he lost his life.

The afternoon session saw Jim Barton of His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) attempt to persuade members of the department’s change programme.

I was aware that the gulf was wide between the leadership and practitioners but this interaction demonstrated how wide. Did I detect despair as Jim could see, almost like a partner seeking a divorce, that members do not wish to remain in what they see as a ‘forced marriage’ between them and the civil service?

Whatever the despair the evening’s DJ gave us an opportunity to throw them into our moves on the dancefloor.


Writing as he does but also as a member of Napo



Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.

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Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.