Families Outside Conference 2017

On 31 May this year, PAS partner, Families Outside, hosted a national conference on improving support for families at the point of arrest. The conference highlighted clearly the trauma of witnessing a family member’s arrest and explored ways of addressing this.

Of particular note was Clore Social Research Fellow Jo Tilley-Riley‘s research into the experiences of children and young people who witness an arrest from their home. Jo recognised imprisonment of a household member as an Adverse Childhood Experience and recommended:

  • the need to identify the scale of this experience;
  • research into what would make a difference; and
  • a programme to support youth advocates; and training for the police.

You can see Jo's presentation here: http://www.familiesoutside.org.uk/content/uploads/2017/07/Jo-Tilley-Riley.pptx

See Ollie’s Story, a short animation of a young person speaking about his experience of a family member’s arrest. 

Another highlight of the day came from Commander Greg McEachern of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) talking about its ground-breaking work on planning for arrest when children may be present. With a focus on minimising harm, the SFPD avoids home arrests where possible, ensures that care is in place for any children left behind, and trains every police officer to comply with specific protocols for arrest and trauma-informed practice.

Closer to home, Police Constable Tracey Gunn gave a personal account of the development of the 'Meet the Police' project at Her Majesty’s Prison Edinburgh, which aims to improve public relations with the police and reduce trauma amongst children and young people who have witnessed an arrest. Her work is based on the fact that “every child deserves to feel safe, loved, and have fun!”

Families Outside is pleased to be taking forward discussions on the main themes from the conference with colleagues from Police Scotland. These include:

  1. developing a new police contact card/information for families at the point of arrest and guidelines for their use
  2. agreeing protocols for arrest when children may be present (ensuring arrest takes place away from family wherever possible)
  3. raising awareness of the national framework for Support to Families Affected by the Criminal Justice System
  4. discussing the possible extension of 'Meet the Police' type programmes with prison visitor centres and schools throughout Scotland.