Funding for women’s centres and charities to tackle underlying issues which lead people to a life of crime has been welcomed as something that will “save lives as well as saving the public purse”.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced £15 million for services that work with women in the justice system, to offer tailored support for offenders as part of a strategy to reduce the number of women committing crimes.
Some 40 women’s centres and charities as well as four police and crime commissioners will receive funding to provide specialist help to people who commit lower-level offences.
The Nelson Trust, which is one of the recipients and provides residential abstinence-based addiction treatment programmes to help women achieve long-lasting recovery, said many vulnerable women end up in the justice system “because of exploitation by others”.
Its chief executive John Trolan said more than half (58 per cent) of women report committing crimes to support the drug habit of others compared with 27 per cent of men.
He said: “We enable women to develop positive social networks of support, leading to lives where they are financially independent, choosing healthy relationships and if they are parents, parenting responsibly.”
Lisa Dando, director at Brighton Women’s Centre which is also receiving funding, said they hope to target support at prevention.
She said: “I am delighted that we have been awarded funding from the MoJ to support women living with multiple disadvantages to lead happier and fulfilling lives.
“Brighton Women’s Centre is committed to supporting women through a trauma informed and holistic model of care to ensure women can move away from the criminal justice system.
“This funding from the MoJ will enable us to specifically target support at preventing women from entering the criminal justice system.
“Ultimately, this will save lives as well as saving the public purse.”
Prisons and probation minister Damian Hinds said: “We know that female offenders often turn to crime because of poor mental health or drug abuse so it is absolutely vital we address those underlying issues to stop their offending.
“These community organisations play a key role in our work to cut crime and improve support for some of society’s most vulnerable women.”
The MoJ said the funding was part of efforts to tackle the root causes of female offending and that providing vulnerable women with early support is a “key part of the Government’s Female Offender Strategy to cut crime by women and reduce the number who end up in prison”.