On the 7th March, Vera Baird DBE QC spoke alongside the Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss MP at the launch of the new report Corston+10, hosted in the House of Lords by Baroness Corston and the charity Women in Prison.
The launch marked the ten-year anniversary of The Corston Report, which outlined how women are treated in the criminal justice system and called for an integrated approach to reduce the number of women in prison. Ten years on, Women in Prison are highlighting the steps that Police and Crime Commissioners can take to enable women affected by the criminal justice system to turn their lives around, such as visiting local women’s services in their areas to find out what gaps exist in service provision, and establishing multi-agency approaches to prevent and divert women from ending up in the criminal justice system.
About the launch, Dame Vera said:
“Prison sentences for women are often unnecessary, and fail to address the root causes of offending: Corston+10 has underlined how 84% of women’s prison sentences are for non-violent offences such as theft – which are often related to poverty and addiction – whilst shockingly, over half of women in prison have themselves been victims of domestic or sexual abuse.
“It was encouraging to hear the Justice Secretary speak, and indicate her commitment to finding a way forward on this issue. As Police and Crime Commissioners, we must work alongside our colleagues in the criminal justice system, local government and voluntary sectors, to provide effective services which give women the support they need, in order to reduce crime levels in our communities”.
Meanwhile, Matthew Scott PCC, who was also at the launch said:
“This report underlines how serious mental health problems are endemic in women’s prisons, and often are the response to trauma. As Deputy Lead for the APCC Portfolio Group on Mental Health, I would urge my colleagues to take a proactive approach in their communities to commission services to help those suffering from mental health problems in a compassionate and humane way, and reduce both the burden on the criminal justice system and the cost for the taxpayer”.
For more information on Corston+10, please click here.