28 June, 2018

Julia Mulligan backs strategy to support female offenders – but warns more needs to be done

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to sit on expert panel to look at further improvements for women in the criminal justice system

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan is today signalling her support for the government’s new Female Offender Strategy, launched by Secretary of State David Gauke MP. But she warns more needs to be done to ensure there is a ‘step change’ in how women in the criminal justice system are dealt with to ultimately reduce crime and make a difference to victims.

The strategy sets out that custody should be a last resort, reserved for the most serious offences. Official figures show nine in ten women in prison on remand or for sentences of less than a year are assessed as being at low/medium risk of causing serious harm, while women who go to jail rather than receiving a community order for similar, minor offences are five per cent more likely to reoffend within 12 months.

Now the government are making clear that, where appropriate, women should be given the support they need to address their offending behaviour in the community, and that early intervention is essential to reduce the number of women entering the justice system in the first place.

As part of this, Lord Farmer has been asked to continue his review work on the importance of family links in improving outcomes for offenders. This review will focus on the needs of female offenders and, after months of pushing for change, Julia has been invited to sit on the expert panel which will examine what works, what needs to improve and what policy changes are needed to make that happen. It is due to report by the end of the year.

Commenting on the female offender strategy, elected Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, said:

“No one should be in any doubt that change is needed to support women whose lives are turned upside down by being given needless sentences that have no benefit to anyone. This strategy is a welcome start to changing that by accepting there is an issue that needs to be tackled.

“The focus on residential support over prison is the right move, but we need to do more to ensure there is a step change in the way women are treated in the criminal justice system. We can’t stop here which is why I am proud to have been asked to be part of the Lord Farmer Review to give my view and assess the expert evidence that ensures women get the best possible support and can turn their lives around.”

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