Female offenders should receive more targeted support to break the cycle of crime and abuse many of them face, Justice Minister Helen Grant said today.
It costs £45,000 to keep a woman in prison for one year ? while almost 45 per cent of all women released from custody in 2010 re-offended within 12 months.
Many female offenders have a background of abuse and up to 56 per cent have been in care.
Setting out her priorities, Helen Grant outlined the need for proper punishment, coupled with effective rehabilitation, to turn women away from crime.
A powerful new Advisory Board will bring together key experts to help shape future policy in tackling female offending and drive through reforms.
Helen Grant said:
'Many female offenders share the same depressingly familiar issues of abuse, drug and alcohol dependency and mental health problems.
'Women who commit crime should be punished, but we must not forget that a significant number have been victims during their lives, and need targeted support to break the cycle of offending.'
Issues the board will consider include:
- The use of tough and effective community orders that allow women to be punished and rehabilitated in the community where appropriate;
- How the private, voluntary and public sector can provide more effective women's services in the community, including female-only treatment programmes;
- Locating female prisoners as near as possible to their families to help maintain important links with children; and
- Support for female offenders released from prison so they have help finding housing, a job or education and appropriate treatment.
This approach will be underpinned by tough reforms that will see every community order include an element of punishment such as a curfew or unpaid work.
The priorities sit alongside recent Transforming Rehabilitation proposals, which place a greater emphasis on providing through-the-gate support helping offenders into housing, employment and treatment programmes.
Read the full report Strategic objectives for female offenders (PDF 0.06mb)