Prison apologises for sending family letter banning them from visiting after inmate’s toddler hugged him during visit

Letter from HMP Sudbury
The prison since apologised for the “distress” caused. (Image: Chris Atkins)

A PRISON has apologised for sending a letter to a family banning them from visiting their relative after his toddler broke no contact rules by hugging him during a visit.

HMP & YPO Sudbury in Derbyshire sent the “distressing” letter to the inmate’s family following the incident on 21 September.

They were informed that due to the “breach” they will no longer be able to visit the prison and that their relation has been moved to an isolation pod to prevent any Covid-19 spread.

The prison says inmates were warned about the rules but has since clarified that the family are not banned indefinitely.

A photo of the letter was posted on social media on Saturday by author and ex-convict Chris Atkins, 44, after it was shared with him by the family.

Chris Atkins
The issue was highlighted by author and former inmate Chris Atkins. (Image: Chris Atkins)

The letter reads: “Having reviewed the events of where the rule regarding physical contact between prisoner and a visitor was breached by a child accompanying you on your visit.

“I must inform you that _____ has now been located to an isolation pod for a period of 14 days.

“This is in order to prevent any potential cross contamination with regards to Covid-19.

“Due to this breach I am informing you that you and _____ will not be able to visit Sudbury again.

“The rule regarding physical contact is in place to keep everyone as safe as possible and as much as we appreciate that this may be difficult with children, safety is our ongoing priority.”

The letter adds the family will be eligible for “purple visit”, an option to video call in the future.

The letter was shared by Chris with the caption: “Child hugs dad on prison visit.

Twitter comment
Social media users slammed the decision.

“Inmate is put in solitary, child banned from visiting indefinitely. Welcome to the British prison system.

“This callous and barbaric approach won’t surprise anyone who’s come into contact with the prison service.

“My own son couldn’t visit me for 5 weeks because they were checking his criminal history. He was 4 at the time.”

The post has shocked social media users.

Twitter user @4trim24 responded: “This is so sad. Where is the compassion for this child? What has happened to people not caring for the feelings of others.”

@Roseberrykate added: “That’s inhumane.”

Twitter response
Many felt it was a violation of rights.

However @Frazer271009 claimed that the inmate should have known better, he said: “It’s c*** for his child who now can’t see his dad but the prisoner should have known better and not done it.”

Chris, an ex-inmate of HMP Wandsworth, said today: “The child didn’t know any better, the mother is appealing it, but the family don’t want to comment further.

“This petty misinformed spiteful action happens in prison all the time. They don’t see prisoners as human beings and by extension their families too.

“If you cut people off you can guarantee that they will go out and re-offend, keep parents connected with their kids.”

A source at the Mistry of Justice revealed the letter was a “bit of miscommunication” and explained the family is “Not banned indefinitely and a letter will be sent to the partner to make this clear”.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “The rules are there to keep everyone safe and ensure that families can continue to visit.

“We appreciate how difficult it can be to keep a toddler under control and apologise for the distress this letter has caused.

“Prison staff have worked hard to stop coronavirus spreading through jails and families are asked to maintain social distancing during visits to play their part in saving lives.”