Julian Huppert writes… Fixing the women’s prison estate

After only  a couple of weeks with women offenders under his remit, Liberal Democrat Lord and Minister in the Ministry of Justice, Tom McNally has this morning announced what may be a step-change in the way Britain handles the women’s estate.

Six years after the Corston review, which bemoaned the lack of a tailored and differentiated approach to dealing with female offenders, we are finally seeing her recommendations being implemented. Corston called for an approach that recognised and reacted to the needs of women in the prison estate. Following on from this our Conference called for a radical change in the way women were handled throughout the criminal justice system and in Government we have delivered on your demands.

Thanks to Tom’s hard work on this issue, new open units for women will be trialled in HMP Styal before we look at rolling it out across the country. These centres will ensure women are kept near their local communities enabling them to maintain links with family and often children, as well as providing them with all the services they require to ensure they can get back on their feet and away from the traps of reoffending on release.

In time we hope these will replace the large open prisons which whilst may have all the desired services in-house are located in the middle of nowhere, thereby uprooting women from their families and communities which are so vital in getting them back on track.

We promised a rehabilitation revolution and in Government we are delivering. Well done Tom!

* Julian Huppert was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2010-15

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  • Those sound like very good aims. Would we also support similar reforms of the men’s system to keep them close to their families and support networks or do the arguments stack up differently? I’m interested in what assumptions are being made about the differences between male and female prisoners in general.

  • Michael Parsons 27th Oct '13 - 12:34pm

    @ Richard S

    Hear hear! Families also need fathers. Children starved, beaten and killed by their mothers knew that too. Surely it depends on what sort of mother or father we are talking about? The Babes in the Wood is not just a fairy-tale, after all.

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