Evidence From Make Justice Work To The Justice Select Committee
Today was the deadline to submit written evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee into women offenders.
This is a very timely inquiry and in the submission sent by Make Justice Work we have made the following key points:
- There should be a greater use of robust and demanding community sentences as an alternative to short term prison sentences for lower level offences committed by women offenders.
- The government urgently needs to produce a strategy with the aim of reducing the number of women in custody, to ensure there is proper co-ordination across all government departments – not just the Ministry of Justice – with clear ministerial responsibility, accountability and a timetable to reduce the number of women in custody.
- Among the judiciary there needs to be a greater level of awareness and understanding – including Magistrates – about the specific needs of women offenders, including those with a learning disability/difficulty and the valuable role of effective community sentences as an alternative to custody.
- We need to see assurances from government that safeguards will be put in place to ensure the introduction of the principles of Payment by Results (PbR) by 2015 in community sentences will not lead to unintended consequences, whereby the specific needs of women offenders are at risk of being ignored.
Following the appointment of a new Secretary of State for Justice and a new ministerial team in his Department, we intend to engage with the Government and members of the Select Committee on this very important issue.