Women not mentioned in the Reform bill currently before Parliament. Urgent action needed!

At NCW’s Annual Conference in October, delegates voted unanimously for a resolution, presented by NCW Affiliate, the Prison Reform Trust. Too many vulnerable women are unnecessarily sent to prison for non-violent offences, while local women’s centres – which have had better results in reducing offending – face an uncertain future. NCW President, Sheila Eaton has sent a copy of the resolution to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke and shadow members of the Opposition, asking them to prioritise the sustained and determined implementation of measures to divert women from crime, reduce offending and reoffending by women, and stop sending so many women to prison. This includes amending the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill currently in Parliament which, when it was introduced this summer, made no mention of women whatsoever. The President has also called on NCW members to support the resolution by writing to their MP.

Here is more information from Juliet Lyon CBE, Director Prison Reform Trust:

Following her presentation of the Resolution at the National Council of Women’s Annual Conference in October Juliet Lyon CBE, Director Prison Reform Trust writes:

“There are more than 4,200 women in prison in England and Wales, and over the course of a year over 11,000 women will spend time in prison. While some have committed such serious crimes that custody is the right punishment of last resort, very many women are remanded by the courts, often for mental health assessments, or serving short sentences for non-violent offences. Large numbers have themselves been the victims of serious crime such as domestic violence or sexual abuse, and many have severe mental health problems. An estimated 17,700 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment each year, with just 5% being able to remain in their own homes while their mums are inside.

There is a broad consensus that community sentences with proper supervision and support work better than prison to reduce women’s offending, and at a fraction of the cost. The Government’s own research supports this and ministers say they want to make better use of community provision for women offenders. However, there is no strategy and sustained funding in place to make this happen. Representing a fraction of the overall prison population, vulnerable women have been too easily ignored by successive governments.

We have resolved to change this and insist that the government makes the reform of women’s justice a priority. I am pleased NCW members have been asked to write to their MPs requesting their support and also to find out more about community provision in their local area in order to help vulnerable women in the justice system get on the right track.”

Click here for more information and to email your MP.

Juliet Lyon CBE Director Prison Reform Trust www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk