Hampstead training centre welcomes prison re-think for babies born behind bars

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a re-think. Picture: PA

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a re-think. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A Montessori training centre which helps female convicts who have babies in jail has welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a re-think into the way the prison system treats pregnant women.

The Hampstead-based Maria Montessori Institute has welcomed David Cameron’s pledge on Monday that the government will look at alternatives to custody for women who give birth behind bars, after he said it was “absolutely terrible” to think of infants being kept in jail.

The organisation, based in Lyndhurst Gardens, aims to help break the cycle of re-offending for the babies of mothers locked up for their crimes with its outreach project, Born Inside.

It does this by supporting the development of children in prison, teaching Montessori ideals, and helping the convict mothers to form a lasting bond with their children.

Figures show about 100 babies spent time living in prison last year.

At the moment, when a convicted pregnant women gives birth, she is transferred to a prison’s mother and baby unit, which can accommodate infants up to the age of nine or 18 months depending on the prison.

But spaces are limited, and babies can be separated from their mothers much earlier.

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Louise Livingston, Maria Montessori Institute’s director of training, said: “We’re not helping as nearly as many people as I would like, so David Cameron’s idea would allow us to do much more, because the access would be so much easier.”

To find out more about the Born Inside project and the institute’s range of courses, visit their website.