GLDVP is establishing a new workstream to address the needs of women in the criminal justice system who are offenders or are at risk of offending and who have experienced violence and abuse.
Women offenders are some of the most disadvantaged members of our society. Most commit non-violent crimes, and pose no danger to the public. At least 50% of women in prison have experienced domestic violence – compared to 25% of all women in their lifetime. 70% of women in prison suffer from two or more mental health problems and 66% of women offenders report drug and alcohol abuse. These women need supportive interventions that address their underlying needs that may impact on their offending.
Prison can be particularly harmful for women victims of domestic violence, as the punitive environment can compound experiences of victimisation, and exacerbate low self-esteem. Prison regimes are high-criticism, low support settings, which replicate the abusive relationships many women offenders have experienced outside of prison. Experiences of violence and abuse can be a key factor in women’s pathways to crime; if this link is not addressed, prison can do little to support women to stop offending.
As part of this work, GLDVP hosted the Securing Safety conference in November 2006 to raise awareness among criminal justice agencies and the voluntary sector of the interlinking nature of work on violence against women and women’s offending. The conference identified that for most women who offend, prison is an expensive intervention that does not work: it is ineffective, inappropriate, harmful and expensive. A briefing of conference recommendations will be launched in the autumn.
GLDVP has submitted various consultations responses to address the needs of women offenders. We are working with HMPS in Holloway and through the Second London Domestic Violence Strategy to develop training, improve domestic violence services and interventions for victims and perpetrators and develop a personnel policy.
We are a partner of a consortium of criminal justice and prison reform organisation campaigning for implementation of the Corston report recommendations. Click here to view and sign the petition.
Other work planned includes an autumn round table event to discuss implementation of the Securing Safety conference recommendations and those in the Corston Report.