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Female Offenders

Volume 560: debated on Friday 22 March 2013

I am pleased to announce that today I have published online a document outlining the Government’s strategic priorities for female offenders. These priorities are:

Ensuring the provision of credible, robust sentencing options in the community that will enable female offenders to be punished and rehabilitated in the community where appropriate. We are committed to ensuring all community orders include a punitive element. Other options such as tagging and curfews can also be used to provide greater monitoring and structure to offenders’ lives;

Ensuring the provision of services in the community that recognise and address the specific needs of female offenders, where these are different from those of male offenders;

Tailoring the women’s custodial estate and regimes so that they reform and rehabilitate offenders effectively, punish properly, protect the public fully, meet gender specific standards, and locate women in prisons as near to their families as possible; and

Through the transforming rehabilitation programme, supporting better life management by female offenders ensuring all criminal justice system partners work together to enable women to stop reoffending.

To support delivery of these priorities, I am also pleased to announce that I will chair a new Advisory Board for Female Offenders. The board, which will bring together key stakeholders, criminal justice partners and senior officials from across Whitehall, will support me in providing strong leadership on delivery of our strategic priorities.

It will focus on specific work streams, which will include exploring how we could enhance provision for female offenders in the community to offer a credible alternative to custody; supporting the Government’s plans for transforming rehabilitation; providing expert, practitioner input to the Government’s review of the women’s custodial estate; and working with sentencer, criminal justice partners, the voluntary sector and other Government Departments to reduce women’s offending and reoffending.

The publication of this document follows commitments made in the House of Lords by Lord McNally during the parliamentary passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and by the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) in the House of Commons during Commons Committee of the Crime and Courts Bill.

Copies of “Strategic Priorities for Female Offenders” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The document is also available online, at: www.justice.