Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

March 23, 2005: Addressing Women’s Offending

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has announced funding totalling £9.15 million on new approaches to address women's offending. The funding will be spread over the next four years. The new initiatives will be set up in two areas and will include women's community supervision and support centres, where female offenders can access a whole range of services and support designed to meet their needs.

The new initiatives should be up and running in 2006. They will provide women with the help and support they need to tackle issues such as drug abuse, mental health problems, housing, childcare, domestic violence and other issues that can affect why women offend. These 'one-stop-shops' will learn from the experiences of existing projects such as the Asha Centre in Worcester and the 218 Project in Glasgow, both of which already offer an innovative range of services to women in the community.

By tackling these problems more effectively in the community the aim is to reduce the use of custody for women offenders. The new initiatives will ensure that probation services, police, courts, local authorities, voluntary organisations and other statutory agencies work effectively together to provide the right interventions for women offenders.

Speaking at a Fawcett Society press conference, the Home Secretary said:

"Community supervision and support centres are an innovative solution to the particular issues that women offenders face. This initiative is especially significant because this is the first time the Government has allocated funding specifically to tackle women's offending."

"I am concerned about the increase in the women's prison population in recent years and the wider impact and disruption this has on their children and families. So it is vital that we look at new ways of dealing with women offenders in the community. Prison should only be used for those who really need to be there. These new initiatives will tackle issues like drug dependency and mental health problems in the community at an early stage, and help ensure that custody is used only as a last resort."

The Fawcett Commission welcomed the announcement, but says this should be just the first rung on the ladder to a radical reform of the treatment of women offenders. They argue that there is an urgent need for this reform.

The Fawcett Society’s Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System was a one-year inquiry set up by the Fawcett Society, which brought together experts in criminal justice. It looked at the experiences of women and the criminal justice system as victims, offenders and practitioners and made links between the three groups. It reported in March 2004 and found that women suffer because of man-made justice system and that jail is wholly inadequate for the vast majority of women.

The Commission’s latest report, released on Tuesday 22 March 2005 has reviewed progress  made in the last year and what yet remains to be done.Since then, 12 more women have died of self-inflicted deaths in prison. In the past ten years, the number of women in jail has nearly trebled - not because women are committing more crime or more serious crime, but because they are being sentenced more harshly. More women are sentenced to prison for shoplifting than for any other offence.

The majority of women sent to jail have drug and mental health problems that only worsen in prison. Women prisoners are also twice as likely to have suffered domestic violence than other women. The over-stretched system cannot cope with the needs of such vulnerable women and separation from family and community means life for these women and their children is even more disrupted. While in prison, 40 % of women harm themselves or attempt suicide.

According to the Fawcett Commission:

  • Just 12 % of women sentenced to prison have been convicted violence against the person. The vast majority of women sent to prison should not be there. Prison does not work – most women sent to prison go on to reoffend. Alternatives to custody are not easy options for offenders, but they can be more effective ways of addressing the needs of women offenders, protecting their children and the wider community.
  • They are pleased the Home Secretary has pledged funding for pilot community centres for women offenders. However, they argue that if the courts are going to stop sending vulnerable women to prison, the Government needs to do more.
  •  They want community rehabilitation for women all over the country, including all-women bail hostels and probation programmes. The majority of women offenders have suffered abuse by men, making current mixed accommodation and programmes entirely inappropriate for most.
  • There must be a new duty on courts to consider the impact of imprisonment on women who already have mental health problems and the impact of imprisonment on their children.

Fawcett Commission chair Vera Baird QC MP said:

“We have had five inquests into the self-inflicted deaths of women in prison this year alone. How many more women prisoners must die before the courts stop sending vulnerable women to jail? The vast majority of women sentenced to jail have not committed violent offences and should never be there in the first place. Prison only makes things worse and creates a perpetual cycle of crime. We want a radical new approach to women offenders that will properly rehabilitate women.”