The Ministry of Justice's Female Offender Strategy was published on 27 June 2018. It acknowledges that female offenders can be among the most vulnerable of all and sets out the Government's commitment to a new programme of work for female offenders, driven by three priorities: earlier intervention, an emphasis on community-based solutions and an aim to make custody as effective and decent as possible.
The framework for implementation is to be locally-led, partnership-focused and evidence-based. The Government will invest £5 million over two years in community provision for women and a pilot will be developed for residential women's centres in at least five sites across England and Wales. The aim is to develop more options for supporting women in the community.
The Ministry of Justice has also published information for the police on working with vulnerable women and guidance on the development of whole systems approaches. The strategy also states that Lord Farmer has been asked to continue his work on the importance of family ties in improving outcomes for offenders by reviewing his recommendations through the lens of the needs of female offenders. A National Concordat on Female Offenders will also be developed.
MA Chairman's comment
Commenting on the female offenders strategy John Bache, National Chairman of the Magistrates Association, said:
'The Magistrates Association warmly welcomes today's announcement by the Ministry of Justice that more resources will be invested in community provision designed specifically for women.
'Nobody wants to see short prison sentences given because there isn't a suitable community alternative available and we therefore wholeheartedly endorse the steps announced today towards ensuring that effective community sentences are available for women in every area of the country.
'Courts must also be properly informed about the community provision that is available in their area, to ensure that magistrates can give community sentences with confidence, knowing that they are suitable for female offenders and will help women to turn their lives around.'