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Women in Prison

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 19 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they will take to reduce the number of women in prison for minor offences, as highlighted by the United Nations Committee on the elimination of discrimination against women in its concluding observations in respect of the United Kingdom on 18 July. [HL6114]

Sentencing and remand decisions in individual cases are entirely a matter for the independent judiciary within the law and any guidance issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Court of Appeal. The law already makes clear that prison sentences should be given only when the offending behaviour is so serious as to make that the only possible punishment. The Government have consistently expressed their view that offenders who are not violent or dangerous do not need to be in custody and their offending can better be addressed with a community order.

The Government have been focusing on finding effective, practical ways of diverting resources into community provision. The CEDAW recommendations will be considered in the context of implementation of the commitments set out in the Governments response to the Corston report.