Every Oxford child will get a visit from a PCSO if a parent is sent to prison, as part of a new trial between the police and a national charity.

The youngsters and their families will be given details of charity Children Heard & Seen, which offers one-to-one support for young people whose parent or parents have been jailed.

Thames Valley Police Violence Reduction Unit is trialling the partnership in Oxford. The scheme, which began last month, may be rolled out more widely when the trial finishes at the end of the year.

Using the Prison Service database, officers will be notified if someone newly sentenced or remanded has children or vulnerable family members in Oxford. A police community support officer will then knock at the family’s door and hand over information about Children Heard & Seen, with it left up to the child and their family if they take up the support. It is expected one family will be visited each week.

Sgt Russ Massie, of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said of the project: “It allows us to make a rapid and positive offer of support for those families. Through this, we can address some of the root causes to future offending and other problems a child may go on to face.”

Sarah Burrows, Chief Executive of Children Heard & Seen, added: “Children with a parent in prison can often be the victims of the parent’s offending, they might have witnessed an arrest which can be very traumatic.”

There is currently no legal requirement for the authorities to provide support to children with a parent who had been incarcerated. Families were left to ‘middle through without support’, Ms Burrows said.

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