Progress achieved: working with women

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The Staffordshire and West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company (SWM CRC) and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company (DLNR CRC) announce the commission of region-wide programmes to stop women re-offending.


In March 2007 Baroness Corston published her report that highlighted the case A day in the life of a probation officerfor a different integrated approach to the treatment of women in the Criminal Justice System. The Corston Report explores the idea that if many women prisoners are mentally ill, then should they be there at all? The proposed new approach argued that offending women should be treated both holistically and individually – a woman-centred approach.


In March 2017 the SWM and DLNR CRCs are working in partnership with local women’s providers to deliver a specialist provision, which is based on research and theory, and is accessible to all of its female service users.

Paula Whelan, Head of Diversity, Equality and Women’s Services in both CRCs, said: “This means that the same, high standard programmes are available from each of our providers and no matter where a female service user lives within the East and West Midlands region, they will be able to access women’s services if they meet the criteria. The female participants are referred into the programme as part of their Rehabilitation Activity Requirement – an element of their community order or as a condition of their licence when they leave custody.”

Both CRCs are owned and managed by the Reducing Re-offending Partnership (RRP).


The providers working with the CRCs in the community are:

  • The Mariposa Project operating across Birmingham, Sandwell and Dudley areas
  • Changing Lives – Walsall and Wolverhampton
  • Fry Housing (Springboard) – Coventry and Solihull
  • Brighter Futures – Staffordshire
  • Women’s Work – Derbyshire
  • The New Dawn New Day Centre – Leicester
  • The Nottingham Women’s Centre is based in the city, but the women’s programme is also available in Mansfield.

The provider Changing Lives is also working with women prisoners in HMP Foston Hall, Drake Hall and Peterborough.


Four women specific programmes have been commissioned to develop the skills that will help individuals to make positive changes in their lives and increase. The four options are:

  • 10 session Change Programme
  • 5 Session Healthy Emotions
  • 5 session Healthy Relationships

  • 5 Session Positive Parenting.

Paula Whelan added: “The 10 session Change programme has been introduced for women service users and can be delivered in a group setting or in one to one sessions for women on supervision, who live in rural locations and are unable to attend the city centre locations.

“The Change programme covers a range of themes including improving self-esteem, management of emotions, boundaries, communication skills and healthy relationship awareness.”


The recent national report into Women’s Community Services by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) explains that – nationally – women make up 23% of people sentenced in Court. But their requirements are usually very distinct from male defendants. They are far more likely to have complex emotional needs, relationship issues and be single parents.

Statistics on women in prison

  • 81% of women entering prison have committed a non-violent offence. Theft and handling stolen goods account for 37% of women entering custody
  • 49% of women prisoners in a Ministry of Justice study were assessed as suffering from anxiety and depression. This can be compared with 19% of the female UK population who are estimated to be suffering from different types of depression
  • 53% of women in prison reported having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child, compared to 27% of men
  • 46% of women prisoners have been identified as having suffered a history of domestic abuse.

*Figures published by the Prison Reform Trust (summer 2013)

Extracts from the Corston Report:

– Relationship problems feature strongly in women’s pathways into crime

– Coercion by men can form a route into criminal activity for some women

– Drug  addiction  plays  a  huge  part  in  all  offending  and  is  disproportionately  the  case  with  women

–  Mental health problems are far more prevalent among women in prison than in the male prison population or in the general population

– Self-harm in prison is a huge problem and more prevalent in the women’s estate

– Women prisoners are far more likely than men to be primary carers of young children and this factor makes the prison experience significantly different for women than men

– Because of the small number of women’s prisons and their geographical location, women tend to be located further from their homes than male prisoners, to the detriment of maintaining family ties, receiving visits and resettlement back into the community.


Paula Whelan is available for interviews. Please contact Fiona Buchanan in the Communication Team on 07711 160685 or 0121 273 5023.


The DLNR and SWM CRCs are managed by the Reducing Reoffending Partnership (RRP) to provide supervision and a range of interventions to enable offending men and women to successfully rehabilitate.

The RRP is comprised of Ingeus, a major provider of people-centre services, CGL, the largest substance misuse provider in the UK and St Giles Trust, a leading criminal justice charity.