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Females: Prisoners

Volume 470: debated on Friday 25 January 2008

To ask the Minister for Women what steps the Government has taken to reduce the number of women in prison since 1997. (164686)

[holding answer 19 November 2007]: The Government launched the Women’s Offending Reduction Programme (WORP) in March 2004 to tackle women’s offending and to reduce the number of women in prison. This multi-agency strategic programme of work aims to provide a more appropriate response in the community to the particular factors that lead to women offending.

In March 2005, the Government allocated £9.15 million to help support a more local response to women’s offending and to establish new initiatives to tackle women’s offending in the community—the Together Women Programme. This is the first time that the Government have dedicated funds specifically to tackling women’s offending and to exploring how alternatives approaches to custody could work effectively for women.

The Together Women Programme is being delivered over four years through demonstration projects in two regional offender manager regions—Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West. Centres are located in Doncaster, Leeds and Bradford (YH) and Liverpool and Salford (NW). The centres provide a one-stop shop where women from the local community can access appropriate services and interventions such as mental, physical and sexual health, drug misuse, physical and sexual abuse, housing advice and debt and benefits service.

On 6 December 2007, the Government published its response to Baroness Corston’s Review of Women with Particular Vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System. This sets out our commitment to build on the work already under way to meet the needs of women offenders and those at risk of offending in the community in order to divert women from custody.