Commenting on the Female Offender Strategy Delivery Plan published the Ministry of Justice, Niki Scordi, CEO at Advance, said:
“There are strong links between women’s experience of domestic abuse and offending. Women can become trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Most women arrested, despite being first time offenders, have high levels of multiple needs, with 67% reporting mental health needs, whilst 65% are victims of domestic abuse.
“We know that diverting women away from the criminal justice system improves the lives of women, their families, and the wider community. However, the current system is not working for women. Women’s centres and services up and down the country need long-term funding to ensure that their needs are being met. Women in contact with the criminal justice system are being referred to women’s centres for support, but the absence of adequate funding means that we are unable to continue to support them for enough time to make a real difference.
“Advance’s Minerva Model works, through its women’s centres and advocates, to deliver holistic, trauma-informed, specialist support and advocacy and group interventions. This wraparound service enables the complex needs of women to be met in a safe, women-only space.
“The current investment pledged to help women in contact with the criminal justice system is a postcode lottery. Support is available, but not everywhere for every woman.”
A woman supported by Advance’s Diversion Service said:
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Notes for Editors
- 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 compared to 47% of men.
- Advance’s London Women’s Diversion Service aims to offer alternatives to prosecution for women who have committed low-harm offences, by working with the police and diverting women at the point of arrest into support services. In 2022, Advance’s services received 9,591 referrals in total, and 79% were contacted by our Criminal Justice Keyworkers in the community and on release. All women reported improved outcomes after receiving support, with sustainable impact after exiting the service: 89% reported improved mental health and well-being, 100% said they were safer from domestic abuse and 93% reported a reduced likelihood of reoffending, increasing safety and reducing violence and abuse of women.
- Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. The charity works with women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives, and women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle.
- As well as providing direct support, Advance works with statutory services, government agencies and other women’s charities to ensure a holistic approach to the issues these women face.
- 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 What We Do
- Supporting women and children of all ages, the team also offers specialist domestic abuse services.
Each year, Advance supports over 8000 women and children.