PCC speaks of 'huge disappointment' with lack of progress on female offender strategy

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The Ministry of Justice has made limited progress on its Female Offender Strategy to improve outcomes for women in the criminal justice system because it has not prioritised investment in this work, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO).

Responding to the release of the report, APCC Lead for Female Offending and Deputy Criminal Justice Lead Emily Spurrell said:

“The findings of this report deeply sadden me. Female offenders are some of the most vulnerable members of society and they need to be supported. Many have complex needs and may live with mental health issues, substance use, domestic abuse, homelessness, poor education, and unemployment.

“The Female Offender Strategy, launched in 2018, was a welcomed step in the right direction: focusing on diverting women away from custody by supporting them in the community with a multi-agency approach.  To now learn that the funding and prioritisation over the last few years have not been in place and have had limited progress, is hugely disappointing. 

“We recognise the impact that the pandemic has had on prioritising funding, but the NAO Report has confirmed the negative impact of short-term funding – programmes need longer term sustainable funding to plan and sustain services. We are also disappointed with the slow roll-out of the pilot programme for women’s centres.

“Much still needs to be done to enable women affected by the criminal justice system to turn their lives around. Police and Crime Commissioners will continue to work alongside our colleagues in the criminal justice system, local government and voluntary sectors, to provide effective services which give women the support they need and divert women from ending up in prison.”