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Essex Probation

Work with Women Offenders

Work with Women OffendersFollowing the publication of the Corston Report in 2007, the government set out its expectations in the National Service Framework for women offenders with the following key strategic objectives:

  • Reduce the number of women coming through the criminal justice system
  • For women who are sentenced, ensure that their needs are met in the community wherever possible; and
  • For women who are sentenced to custody ensure that the facilities are appropriate to their needs.

Nationally, the Government funded a number of women’s community centres to further these objectives. However, Essex was unable to secure funding and there are no such services in Essex.

Interesting results

Previous analysis undertaken in Essex showed that the widespread discrimination found nationally did not appear in this county. Women offenders in Essex were not being disproportionately sentenced to custody. Most women offenders received fast-track reports which meant that they were not being inappropriately remanded in custody. In contrast to the national situation, women were more likely to receive a community (as opposed to custodial) sentence. They were also more likely to successfully complete these sentences than their male counterparts. Women offenders are more likely to miss supervision appointments (although also more likely to have these failures to report treated as acceptable). If women offenders are in breach of their order and taken back to court, they are no more likely than men to be re-sentenced to custody. These findings were replicated for unpaid work and drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

What we are doing

We are developing more women-friendly practice for the minority of women offenders who expressed a desire for women-only reporting sessions.

We have developed a toolkit for women offenders to ensure that obstacles to compliance are removed; also an assertiveness package to address the two areas of need we did identify: emotional well-being and relationships.

We are currently re-designing a project specifically to address the needs of women offenders. More information to come.