Commissioner urges minister to devolve services for female offenders to local areas
During her speech at the launch event in London, Julia endorsed the report’s recommendations, which include setting up a transformation fund’ for female offenders, supporting women’s centres and Police and Crime Commissioners funding local services to better support some of the most vulnerable people in society.
The report outlines a lack of progress made over many years, leading to too many women being imprisoned for low level, non-violent offences, which can have a profound effect on their lives and those of their children. This is compounded by a systemic failure to address many underlying issues that can contribute to offending behaviour such as adverse childhood experiences, traumatic events, abuse, mental ill-health, and substance dependencies.
Julia said: “I was very pleased to be invited to speak at the launch of this important report, alongside the Minister Dr Philip Lee. I thank the CSJ for their work—it is very welcome and puts forward some solid recommendations, which if taken up by Government, could lead to real improvements for many very vulnerable women. The ideas can be funded relatively easily, and need no legislation, so for a reforming government seeking to make a real difference, they should be pursued with vigour.
“And whilst it’s clear there is no excuse for criminal behaviour, we do need to find more effective ways to support women whose offending can often be a factor of past abuse and trauma.”
Julia, who Chairs the Local Criminal Justice Board in North Yorkshire, added: “I particularly welcome the recommendation for a women’s transformation fund, which PCCs could access to put in place better local services. Most of us are ideally placed to do this as we are already working with the relevant agencies, along with funding excellent local organisations, such as those in York and Scarborough, for example. I am therefore encouraged by the Minister’s positive response and will continue to work with Government to make real improvements, which are long overdue.”
Julia was joined on the panel by Dr Philip Lee MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders and Offender Health and Rose Mahon of the Nelson Trust, a women’s centre based in Gloucestershire.