This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 25 July 2019 in the House of Lords on the motion moved by Lord Farmer (Conservative) “that this House takes note of the needs of women in the criminal justice system”.Jump to full report >>
Both government and third sector organisations have argued that women’s needs in the criminal justice system (CJS) are often complex and distinct from those of men. This briefing summarises Baroness Corston’s 2007 report, which argued that the underlying reasons for men and women to offend differed, as did their responses to interventions and rehabilitation. Baroness Corston argued for a radically different approach. Several of the report’s recommendations were implemented. These included the introduction of community women's centres and an end to routine strip searches. Additionally, recognition was given in government policy of the need to take a woman-centred approach when with dealing with female offenders. However, the House of Commons Justice Committee has expressed concerns about the impact of several separate reforms made to the CJS including:
This briefing provides an overview of these three issues.
In 2018, the current Conservative Government published a female offender strategy. The strategy aims to "break the cycle" of reoffending by addressing the vulnerability of female offenders and by providing tailored support. The Government made commitments to:
The Government commissioned Lord Farmer to follow up his report of 2017 into the importance of family ties in improving outcomes for offenders. He was asked to undertake a further review focused on the needs of female offenders. Lord Farmer found that "healthy, supportive" relationships were "utterly indispensable" for every woman in the CJS.
The final section in this briefing summarises the strategy. It looks at progress made by the Government to implement its commitments and the findings of Lord Farmer’s review.
Lords Library notes LLN-2019-0095
Author: Sarah Tudor
The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.