The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, hosted an event in the House of Lords to highlight the need to divert women from the criminal justice system and abolish short term prison sentencing for women with non-violent crimes.
The event brought together people and organisations from across the country who work with women in the community through Women’s Centres, diversion schemes, MPs and Peers, and showcased powerful examples of how people are working to drive change for disadvantaged women.
Research has proven that short custodial sentences for women with non-violent crimes can lead to catastrophic consequences for a woman and her family.
Diversion schemes refer women who have committed low-harm offences into support services, breaking the cycle of offending, and therefore reducing the overall demand on the police and the Criminal Justice system. Diverting 500 women from the justice system, costs the same amount as sending five women to prison.
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Bishop Rachel said, “We know that incredible work takes place through diversion schemes across the country, which provides women with a holistic trauma-informed approach of rehabilitation and this greatly reduces the risk of reoffending, compared with sending them to prison. My hope is that this event challenged people to take action in ways that will help provide a different path for some women in the justice system, giving them opportunities to flourish.”
Speakers included Lord Wolfson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Niki Gould from the Nelson Trust, a Women’s Centre based in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset and Kate Fraser from the Greater Manchester Women’s Support Alliance. We also had the privilege of hearing a personal story from a service user from the Nelson Trust through their SHE diversion scheme, who shared her personal story and how the support of the Nelson Trust turned her life around.
This event took place in Prisons Week (10-16 October) when Christians from across denominations raise awareness and pray for all those affected by prisons and criminal justice.