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Probation inspection report out

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probation report, quality of services in the community for women who offendCommunity services for women who commit crimes are under-valued and under threat.

Probation staff are doing some excellent work with women who commit crime, but their efforts are hampered by a lack of accommodation for women, doubts over the future of Women’s Centres, and a lack of funding.

These women can sometimes turn their lives around, but they need the right support.

With less funding available, and without a clear strategy for women, this is likely to get increasingly difficult and so leave more women more likely to re-offend, Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said.

One in 10 offenders being supervised by probation services are women.

Women differ from male offenders in that they tend to offend for different reasons, commit less serious offences and reoffend less.

They have more often experienced abuse, trauma, depression and substance misuse, and often respond to different approaches and interventions, when compared to men.

Stacey published a report recently called ‘A thematic inspection of the provision and quality of services in the community for women who offend’.

The inspection explored the quality and effectiveness of services for women after the implementation of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.

It looked at work that had been commissioned, delivered or accessed by Community Rehabilitation Companies or the National Probation Service.

Inspectors previously looked at services for women in 2011, four years after publication of the pivotal Corston report.

Following a strong lead from the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service (NOMS), a great deal was achieved between 2007 and 2011, although services were nevertheless inconsistent and performance measures scarce.

This more recent inspection found no better published performance measures and much less focus on women as a distinct group.

There were excellent individual examples of work being done by probation staff and others, but the availability and range of provision in the community is still inconsistent.

In recent years, dedicated funding for women has virtually disappeared, and so the future of some services, and in particular those provided by Women’s Centres, was in doubt.

There was also a lack of available accommodation for women.

The inspection found cases where Women’s Centres had been pivotal in turning women away from crime and helping them to rebuild their lives.

Dame Glenys Stacey said: “After the improvements we saw when we last inspected, in 2011, it is disappointing to see that progress has stalled.

“Women differ from men – they offend for different reasons, and they often need different sorts of support, to turn away from crime.

“Women’s centres were doing some excellent work to help women do that, and to rebuild their lives.

“These centres need recognition, support and funding so that they can continue to help these women and make communities safer.”

To read the full report, click here.

HMI Probation’s last inspection of services for women offenders, Equal but Different: an inspection of the use of alternatives to custody for women offenders, published in 2011, can be found here.

To read the Corston report, click here.

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