Often for the women coming through this pathway, it is their first involvement in the criminal justice system and being able to offer specialised intervention work at such a crucial time can be life changing to the women’s journey.
Based out of police stations, my colleague and I will go and speak to the women in the police cells. This is an important part of the role as that friendly face can be significant in increasing the women’s engagement as many women can be sceptical of professionals. This allows them to receive the necessary support. We then create a person-centred support plan to address any support needs (such as domestic abuse, mental health and drug and alcohol use).
The first few weeks is spent ensuring that the women are linked in with all the relevant services such as social services, or housing teams and inviting them into our fantastic women centres. We then continue to offer 6-12 months’ worth of wrap-around* support.
So far, we’ve had fantastic results and have created and maintained strong relationships with the police. It has been a journey, but it has been incredible to see the police advocating for our women’s needs. The whole team, including myself are looking forward to what this year has in store for us!
I feel extremely lucky to be a part of Diversion team. It is such a unique project within Advance and the work we deliver is vital for early intervention to divert women from entering the Criminal Justice System.
– Woman Supported through Diversion
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*WrapAround support aims to focus on and address the individual women’s needs which might include Violence against women and girls, alcohol and drug use and mental health needs.
Women in contact with the criminal justice system report multiple needs and trauma at a higher rate than men, and specifically:
- 71% of women report mental health needs (1) compared to 47% of men
- 46% report problematic substance misuse (2) on entry to prison compared to 27% of men
- 28% report problematic alcohol use on entry to prison (2) compared to 17% of men
- 53% women report experiences of childhood abuse (2) compared to 27% of men
- 60% of women who offend report experiencing domestic abuse, however this figure is believed to be a lot higher (2)
(1) Ministry of Justice (2019) Out of Court Disposals data tool, Criminal Justice System statistics
(2) HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (2020) Annual Report 2019-20, London: The Stationery Office
London’s Women Diversion Service was launched in September 2019 led by Advance and in partnership with Women in Prison, Hibiscus Initiatives and Pecan, across four London boroughs.
- The Minerva service is part of our wider Criminal Justice services. Advance support’s women in contact with the criminal justice system in Women’s Centres across London, Hampshire, Kent, Thames Valley, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. Find out more
- The Diversion service aims to divert women and young women way from the criminal justice system and provides dedicated support services tailored to women’s needs. Find out more
- Women must be referred to Advance, via statutory services or the charity’s self-referral scheme. For more information about who Advance is able to support, please visit Get help
- For facts and statistics about domestic abuse and women in the criminal justice system, as well as Advance’s work, please visit Our impact