Government announces new strategy to reduce women’s prison population

The Ministry of Justice has announced a new Female Offender Strategy this morning, pledging to reduce the number of women coming into the criminal justice system, increase the use of community alternatives to custodial sentences and improving conditions for those in custody. 

Binning proposals to build five new prisons for women, the strategy instead focuses on tackling the root causes of crime, such as alcohol and drug abuse, in the community. 

However the strategy has been backed by just £5m of core government funding, a mere tenth of the £50m earmarked for the scrapped proposal to construct new women’s prisons, drawing criticism from the women’s sector.

Naima Sakande, Women’s Justice Advocate at the Centre for Criminal Appeals, said:

“We welcome this strategy’s clear acknowledgement that women need their own approach to criminal justice. We particularly applaud the commitment to reducing women's imprisonment by tackling the destructive and wasteful overuse of short custodial sentences for low level, non-violent crime.” 

“However, £5m over two years, of which in fact only £1.5m is new money for women's provision, simply isn’t enough for the whole of England and Wales. If the Government invested properly in ending the cycle of trauma and crime now, women, families and communities would all benefit in the long run.”