UK & World News
Women To Serve Jail Sentences Closer To Home
Keeping women prisoners closer to home and giving them the skills to find employment so they turn their backs on crime are among new reforms revealed today.
Under the proposals, low-risk offenders in England and Wales will be encouraged to undertake practical training so they can seek employment following their jail term.
The reforms, unveiled by Justice minister Lord McNally, who is also the minister for female offenders, also calls for all female prisons to become resettlement prisons so that women are close to home, especially their families and children, and are re-integrated into society.
Lord McNally said: "When a female offender walks out of the prison gates, I want to make sure she never returns.
"Keeping female prisoners as close as possible to their homes, and importantly their children, is vital if we are to help them break the pernicious cycle of re-offending.
"And providing at least a year of support in the community, alongside the means to find employment on release, will give them the best possible chance to live productive, law abiding lives."
The new plan to try and tackle female offending is being set out to work alongside Transforming Rehabilitation reforms in which every offender gets 12 months of tailored support as they leave prison.
Next year the Government will trial a new open unit at HMP Styal focused on helping women into jobs on release.
Several reports to be published later are aimed at helping the new approach to helping women offenders.
Options are also being explored for opening a commercial-run business at the prison that could provide training and employment for offenders.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Trying to improve women's imprisonment would be a waste when the best way to reduce women's offending is to invest in treatment for addictions, mental healthcare, training for work and safe housing away from domestic violence and abuse."
The Government says 53% of female offenders have been victims of childhood abuse, and some 49% have suffered from anxiety and depression.
Four new personality disorder treatment services for female offenders will be created by the NHS, and specialist services at HMP Peterborough will be introduced to deal with female offenders expected to be deported.
The female prison population is down by 10% since 2010.