A new report released today by the Prison Reform Trust and YoungMinds reveals that high numbers of vulnerable children with mental health needs and learning disabilities are getting caught up in the criminal justice system. The charities found that children who offend have health, care and education needs which, if not met, could lead to a lifetime of ill health, unemployment and crime.
Most foreign national women in custody in England and Wales who have been trafficked into offending are not getting the help and support to which they are entitled as victims of crime, a University of Cambridge report reveals.
The report’s authors found violence, intimidation and rape were common experiences of the women, but evidence of their suffering was often overlooked and they did not receive the protection guaranteed to them as victims of human trafficking under international law. In only one of the cases of human trafficking identified by the researchers did victim disclosures result in a full police investigation in relation to the actions of the perpetrators.
The Prison Reform Trust has today published a briefing to assist MPs in the Second Reading Debate on the Crime and Courts Bill on Monday 14 January. Following discussions with MPs and the outcome of previous stages of the Bill, the briefing highlights key parts to Schedule 15 (Dealing non-custodially with offenders) as well as significant omissions in the Bill.
Commenting on new government plans for prison closures and building, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
"Closing prisons and reducing prison numbers offers major social and economic gains but it would be a gigantic mistake if the Justice Secretary were to revive the discredited idea of titans and pour taxpayers' money down the prison building drain, when the Coalition Government could invest in crime prevention, healthcare and community solutions to crime.
"Small community prisons tend to be safer and better at reducing reoffending than huge anonymous establishments.
"Prison is an important place of last resort for serious and violent offenders not, as it has become, a place to dump people who are mentally ill, those with learning disabilities, addicts and vulnerable women and children."
Plans to build three 2,500-capacity "Titan" jails by the previous government at a cost of £2.9 billion were scrapped in 2009 following representations by the Prison Reform Trust and allied organisations. Read our briefing here.