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Renewed urgency required to support better outcomes for women in the criminal justice system

Key insight Thought Leadership 19 January 2022

The National Audit Office has published a report about improving the outcomes for women in the criminal justice system.

It focuses on the Government’s Female Offender Strategy that was launched in 2018. The report is clear that more needs to be done to pump-prime the delivery of the ambitions set out in the 2018 strategy.

Reacting to today’s National Audit Office report, Suki Binning, the Executive Director of Justice, Social Care and Skills at Seetec, said:

“The reality for women in the criminal justice system is that their complex needs are often not adequately addressed to the same extent as men in a similar situation. Noted in the report is the challenging eighteen months the Ministry of Justice has had to navigate, not only because of the pandemic, but also the work to renationalise probation services and move forward on the prison expansion programme. Now is the time for the Government to press ahead with the aims of the original Female Offender Strategy, backed by appropriate funding arrangements to make that happen. This is not straightforward given the Spending Review has already concluded what departmental settlements are available, but the need for better outcomes in the criminal justice system for women is a priority and there is a clear basis, as a result of today’s National Audit Office Report, for this to be revisited.

“What the Government must also do in earnest, is refocus its existing Female Offender Strategy around an action plan that takes into consideration the current issues facing women. Mental health, family provision and wider efforts to deliver better transitional arrangements, including appropriate accommodation, as women exit the formal part of the criminal justice system, and look to reintegrate back into the community need to be coordinated under a far more holistic approach.

“At Interventions Alliance, my colleagues and I are leading efforts to ensure there is capacity for secure accommodation and support that guides women to make more positive choices as part of their rehabilitation journey. This type of intervention is proven to work and the Government should be more confident about moving ahead with such provision to help women make the transition back into their communities. By investing resources in such an approach, the Government can make more progress towards preventing the revolving door of reoffending.”

Read the NAO report about women in the criminal justice system here.


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