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Commenting on the findings of today’s (19 January) report by the National Audit Office, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This report reads as a cautionary tale for everything the Deputy Prime Minister is saying on criminal justice reform. It’s not what you promise that matters, but what you deliver. Inexcusably, the government never set itself any deadlines or targets to deliver a policy on reducing offending by women. So it’s hardly surprising that the National Audit Office now confirms what others have been saying for the last three years—that thousands of vulnerable women, and the general public, continue to be failed.

“It’s easy to talk tough on sentencing, and it’s easy to publish ambitious strategies. But none of that makes the public safer or reduces the waste of money and human potential that our current approach to dealing with crime represents. Delivering real change for women at risk of imprisonment is a testing ground for what the government says it wants to do on crime more generally. Its credibility now utterly depends on putting fine words into practice.”

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PRT Associate and Churchill Fellow Sarah Beresford has written a blog for about the piloting of a new assessment framework for supporting children who have a parent or carer in the criminal justice system.

"It was back in 2002 when I first thought about the impact of maternal imprisonment on children. I was a fairly new teacher at the time...when a mother to three of the children under my care was sentenced to life in prison, there was no coordinated care plan, no interagency collaboraiton, just an extremely unhelpful newspaper forward almost 20 years, and, depressingly, very little has changed."

Read the full blog here.

For more information about the Child Impact Assessment click here.

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In her 2007 review...Baroness Corston deemed the pathway to accommodation after release from prison to be in urgent need of "speedy, fundamental, gender-specific reform". Fourteen years on, however, women are still leaving prison with nowhere safe to go at astonishing rates: 62%, according to figures released by Safe Homes for Women Leaving Prison in 2020.

Without secure housing lined up, as soon as they are "through the gate", these women - many of whom are the most vulnerable in society - "do not stand a chance"

To read the full report by Cherry Casey for Inside Housing, click here.

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Last week, the government published its Prison Strategy White Paper. Russell Webster has written a helpful short blog post summarising what the white paper says about the government's new approach to women's prisons, and is well worth a read.

Read the blog here.

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Working Chance and Women in Prison have joined forces to co-write a blog for the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. The blog discusses how and why they advocate for a future where women are free from violence, and aren't further criminalised.

'Alice was experiencing abuse from her boyfriend. He struggled with drug addiction and over time, he got into so much debt that he pressured Alice to take money out of the till where she worked. Fearing what would happen if she said no, she did as he said. She was caught, and ended up with a criminal conviction.'
*Name and details changed to protect identity

Click here to read the blog

Click here for more information about domestic abuse as a driver to women's offending

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Commenting on the publication of today’s (25 November) prison population projections by MoJ, Peter Dawson, director of the PRT said:  

“The latest projection for the prison population will be portrayed by ministers as a policy success, with more criminals brought to justice. But the detail actually contains multiple admissions of failure. The government is recruiting 23,400 police officers but has no idea whether their time is to be spent preventing crime or chasing after it. Action to reduce reoffending is promised but apparently will have no impact. A strategy to reduce the imprisonment of women will fail so completely that the female prison population will grow by over a third. Inadequate support in the community for people on indeterminate sentences will mean that even more are being needlessly recalled to prison. By 2025, around 30% of our prison population will be over 50 years old, when the peak age for offending is people in their late twenties.  

“The price of all these failures is an extra 18,000 people in prison by 2025, costing us all an additional £800m every year, not to mention the £4bn already put aside to build the cells to house them. Exactly why, uniquely in western Europe, we need to lock up so many of our fellow citizens, is never explained. It’s a foolish waste of scarce resources, driven by politics, not evidence.”


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