Crime and Courts Bill

Memorandum submitted by The National Council of Women (C&C 11)

Member of the International Council of Women NGO with special consultative status at the UN

Schedule 15, Part 7, Crime and Courts Bill: Provision for Female Offenders

Reform of Women’s Justice ; a Resolution passed by t he National Council of Women of Great Britain ( 2011 )

The National Council of Women

1. aware that many women in prison have mental health problems and/or drug and alcohol addictions, have spent time in care, and/or have experienced domestic violence, including sexual abuse

2. aware too that most women in prison serve short sentences for non-violent offences

3. noting that sending women to prison is often unnecessary and ineffective in reducing reoffending, and carries a huge cost to women, children and wider society

4. conscious of the broad consensus that community solutions, tailored to women’s needs, are generally more effective than prison in reducing women’s offending and minimising the cost to society

Calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to ensure:

1. that a rigorous, cross-Departmental strategy is developed and implemented with urgency to divert women from crime, reduce the women’s prison population, and reduce offending and reoffending by women

2. that this strategy acts on the findings of recent major reviews and research into women’s justice such as the Wedderburn and Corston Reviews and specifically the consensus that community solutions work better than prison

3. that, through this strategy, community services that have been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing crime by women, including women’s centres, are made available throughout the country to women and families who are in need

4. that, through this strategy, a wide range of effective alternatives to custody for women are made available to courts consistently across the country

5. that these measures are undertaken at national and local level through co-operation between government departments and local services - justice, health and housing amongst others - and that they are driven forward by strong leadership at the highest level and by structures for delivery that ensure transparency and accountability.

January 2013

Prepared 31st January 2013