A safe, just and equal world for women

New report demands better treatment for women in CJS

May 24, 2024
The report’s recommendations echo Advance’s calls for change and spotlights what we see every day: a system that is failing women and their families, and a serious lack of safe spaces where they can access support.

A key recommendation is that domestic abuse be included in CRS pathway, recognising the fact that over two thirds of women in contact with the CJS are victims of abuse.

The report highlights how important specialist ‘by and for’ organisations are in meeting specific needs. Most of the women supported by Advance’s CJS services are facing multiple challenges at once, such as with their housing, physical and mental wellbeing and caring responsibilities. In 2023, self-harm among women in prison soared by 43%.

The report also recognises the critical partnerships between these organisations.

Inspectors who put the report together said:
“In this inspection, we were similarly concerned to find that few providers had arrangements with specialist providers to support women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. A notable exception to this was Advance, which holds the CRS contract for parts of the London region. Advance had good links with other organisations and was able to refer women to more specialist provision, such as Hibiscus, where needed.”
Summer Alston-Smith, Director of Criminal Justice Service at Advance, said that effective partnership work is a fundamental role of the charity.
“Advance seeks to amplify the voices of not only the women we support but of our partners. A role that we play is fundamentally shifting the way that partnership work happens in the sector and how we create spaces for smaller specialist organisations to influence commissioners, influence stakeholders.

“That is because we know that the future will not change by one organisation alone; the future will only change if women’s organisations work together in the true spirit of sisterhood.”

With a General Election just weeks away, we urge the next government to act on the findings of the inspection report and also deliver on the Female Offender Strategy to ensure that women get the care and support they deserve.

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