Joint statement from women’s centres and women’s specialist providers about plans to build new women’s prison places.
We condemn in the strongest terms the plans unexpectedly announced on Saturday 23 January to build 500 new women’s prison places.
This plan flies in the face of all the evidence built up over years (including official Government data) about how to address the root causes of women’s offending that so often include experiences of trauma, mental ill health, substance misuse and domestic abuse. These have been exacerbated as the consequences of the pandemic take their toll on the health and safety of the most disadvantaged women in our communities through increases in poverty and abuse.
In 2018 the Government published its strategy to invest in community-based support with the goal of reducing both the women’s prison population and reoffending rates. This strategy is supported by the police, prison governors, probation officers, local authorities, health services and charities, including those providing specialist services for women, like women’s centres.
Building new prison places will make the collective efforts of these organisations all the more difficult, and undo progress with the strategy, including delivery of the Government’s newly published Concordat and all the commitments within it.
Building these prison places will harm women, their children, families and communities. The most recent Safety in Custody statistics show self-harm across the women’s estate is at the highest levels on record. These figures point to the urgent need to rethink these plans before the impact of prison expansion results in a steeper trajectory of this devastating upwards trend. We call on the Government to do the right thing to halt these plans, and return to focusing on the strategy that so many are committed to.
LIST OF SIGNATORIES
Kate Paradine, CEO, Women in Prison
Lisa Dando, CEO, Brighton Women’s Centre
Rokaiya Khan, CEO, Together Women
Joy Doal, CEO, Anawim
Niki Gould, Head of Women’s Community Services, Nelson Trust
Naomi Delap, Director, Birth Companions
Marchu Girma, CEO, Hibiscus
Helen Voce, CEO, Nottingham Women’s Centre
Hannah Shead, CEO, Trevi
Angela Everson, CEO, WomenCentre
Caroline Baker, Project Manager, Women’s Work (Derbyshire)
Gemma Fox, Managing Director, North Wales Women’s Centre
Stef Martinsen-Barker, CEO, Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre
Angela Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral
Anna Herrmann, Joint Artistic Director, Clean Break
Jackie May, Chief Executive, Women’s Centre Cornwall
Niki Scordi, CEO, Advance
Sara Swire, CEO, New Dawn, New Day
Jan Fishwick, CEO, Alana House, Parents and Children Together (PACT)
Nikki Guy, CEO, Stockport Women’s Centre
Natasha Finlayson, CEO, Working Chance
Sofia Buncy, National Coordinator, Muslim Women in Prison Project
Susanah Stennett, Women’s Services Manager, Willowdene Farm
Lisa Boyack, Area Manager for Criminal Justice Services, Changing Lives
Amanda Greenwood, CEO, Lancashire Women
Suzi Heybourne, CEO, The Magdalene Group