Bishop Rachel has responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on improving outcomes for women in the criminal justice system.
The summary of the report concludes that while “the aims of the Ministry of Justice’s 2018 Female Offender Strategy are widely supported, the actual progress delivering the strategy since then has been disappointing.” They also concluded that implementing the 2018 Female Offender Strategy “has been a relatively low priority for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and was so even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bishop Rachel said. “It is disappointing that since the Female Offender Strategy was published almost 4 years ago there has been so little progress in meeting its aims. Lack of funding, direction, and political will has left many who work with women in prison and those at risk of offending, frustrated and limited in capacity. It is nonsensical to spend £200 million on 500 new places for women in prison when we know that it would cost significantly less, around £50,000 a year, to support a woman in community-based provision which ultimately does more to prevent reoffending, maintain family ties and tackle the root causes of offending. We know that prison is an inappropriate response to the offending of so many women yet again and again the quantitative and qualitative data is seemingly being ignored by Government, as is their own Female Offender Strategy. The Public Accounts Committee makes some strong recommendations which I endorse. As Bishop for HM’s Prisons in England and Wales, I long for a criminal justice system that is restorative, responsible, and relational, and which listens to the evidence which is repeatedly being presented year after year. A well-funded Female Offender Strategy would go a long way to mitigate the harmful affects of custody and support many women to turn their lives around.”
Improving outcomes for women in the criminal justice system report –https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/22032/documents/163653/default/