Women’s Justice

Women face severe disadvantage in the criminal justice system. The women in our prisons are some of the most vulnerable people in society – at least 60% have experienced domestic abuse and 70% have mental health issues.

Almost all are there for low level offences, with sentences of less than 12 months – not enough time for any meaningful rehabilitation, but enough time for a woman to lose her children, her home, and her job. 

We recognise that often women may have experienced domestic abuse and /or controlling and coercive behaviour or they may have complex mental health needs or learning difficulties:  women also face discrimination due to class, race, religion, ethnicity and other reasons. 

Our specialist lawyers represent women to challenge their wrongful convictions and unfair sentences. We seek to empower women to become advocates for reform and use our knowledge and experience to campaign for a fairer and more equitable justice system.

Poverty is not a crime

Poverty is not a crime and should never be treated as one. We have been working to end criminalisation for debt, which disproportionately affects women.

In 2020 the most common offence for which women were prosecuted was television licence fee non-payment, which accounted for an astonishing 30% of all female prosecutions. 75% of all prosecutions for licence fee non-payment were against women, despite women being half of licence holders. We amassed 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the BBC from prosecuting people in genuine hardship for not paying their TV Licence. 

Owing council tax is not a crime, yet it lands roughly 100 people in prison each year. Many women have been wrongfully sent to prison in circumstances where they had to choose between paying the council or paying for food. In 2018 Wales ended the use of imprisonment for the non-payment of council tax as a result of our advocacy and strategic litigation. 

Are you being prosecuted for not paying your TV licence?

We may be able to help with our FAQ page

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TV Licensing must stop prosecuting people in genuine hardship

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APPEAL is the working name of the Centre for Criminal Appeals, a Charitable Company Limited By Guarantee and a law practice authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Registered Charity Number: 1144162 | SRA Authorisation Number: 621184 | Company Number: 7556168