More children living in the city side of Derry visited the prisons last year than any other area of the north, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request from online investigative journalism site The Detail reveals that BT48 was the postcode area in the north with the highest number of resident children who visited prisons in 2013.
A total of 350 individual children from the city side of Derry visited Magilligan, Maghaberry or Hydebank Wood jails last year.
Over 25,000 child visits were recorded by the Northern Ireland Prison Service over the 12 month period – 20% of the total visits to the north’s prisons.
Deirdre Sloan, manager of Barnardo’s NI Parenting Matters, said children with parents in prison can be the “forgotten victims of crime.”
“Research shows they are likely to be at higher risk of poorer educational outcomes and can also suffer mental and physical health problems.
“They can experience trauma, fear, shame, guilt and low self-esteem which can cause disrupted sleep, changes in eating behaviours, stress and depression which in turn impacts on their education, health and relationships with family, community and school.”
She continued: “It has also been identified that parents who keep in contact with their children while they are in prison are six times less likely to reoffend.”
Justice Minister David Ford told The Detail that maintaining family life helps to reduce inter-generational offending.
The Minister added: “The positive influence that the support and guidance of family members can have on a prisoner cannot be over-estimated.”
You can read the story in full online at www.thedetail.tv