Advance today launches its report ‘A place to go like this’, that highlights the urgent action needed:
- A joined-up whole-system approach and investment by all agencies involved with mothers who offend or are at risk of offending, to break the cycle of harm to them and their children, including youth violence and exploitation.
- Investment in women’s centres, safe places to go in the community where women can access the support they need, to address underlying trauma and rebuild their lives – everyone needs ‘A place to go like this’ as Rachel, a woman with experience of abuse and offending, said.
- A requirement for a gender-specific criminal justice response, including specialist women’s courts, where all professionals understand the specific drivers of women’s offending and the devastating impact custodial sentences have on children, as a result of their primary carer’s imprisonment.
A report published today by Advance, the leading women’s charity that supports women and children who experienced domestic abuse and those who have committed crime or are at risk of offending, explores how violence against women and girls lies at the heart of the intergenerational cycle of harm, including women’s offending and links with youth violence. As a result of the findings, Advance calls for better recognition of the consequences of domestic abuse on women and especially their children’s futures, and for joint action by the agencies involved with women and children to prevent further trauma and harm.
Domestic abuse against women caught in the criminal justice system is often invisible – and so are their children. This important report highlights the often damaging ways in which the criminal justice system, the police and statutory services respond to women who have offended and the devastating impact this can have on their own futures and those of their children.
The report, A place to go like this, funded by London’s Violence Reduction Unit and supported by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, was informed by practice-based research into women’s journeys supported by Advance, and was conducted over 6 months since Autumn 2019, including focus groups and interviews with mothers with lived experience of domestic abuse and the criminal justice system, Advance staff and other voluntary and statutory sector professionals.
Niki Scordi, Chief Executive of Advance said:
“The link between women’s offending and their experience of domestic abuse is well-established. There is urgent need for systemic change, recognising the trauma[ of women and their children from domestic abuse and the criminal justice system, and the resulting risk of children being involved in youth violence and criminal exploitation.
It is time for all agencies and government, at all levels, to act on the evidence and to invest in women-centric community support and women’s centres, diverting women away from the criminal justice system and ensuring that their children’s needs are considered.
At Advance, we amplify the voices of the women and children we support and advocate for them,aiming to improve the respond of statutory agencies and government. We need to ensure that all agencies are supported to develop a deeper understanding of the needs of these mothers and their children and to work closely together to ensure the best possible outcomes for these families.”
Katy Swaine-Williams, Senior Researcher at Advance, said:
“There is much talk of a ‘trauma informed’ response to vulnerable mothers involved with the criminal justice system and their children. The women I met through this research found such a response at Advance, through the expert support and advocacy provided by their keyworker and access to a safe, welcoming space at their Women’s Centres.
I hope this report will encourage the investment and multi-agency work needed to make this kind of support available to every family that needs it, and at an earlier stage.”
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Notes for Editors
- The report was funded by London’s Violence Reduction Unit and prepared by Katy Swaine Williams with research assistance from and in consultation with Advance’s staff and women with lived experience of the criminal justice system.
- The report used quantitative and qualitative methodology, including focus groups and one-to-one interviews with mothers with lived experience of domestic abuse and the criminal justice system, Advance staff and other voluntary and statutory sector professionals.
- Advance, founded in 1998, is an award-winning innovative charity, led by and for women, that supports women and girls who have experienced domestic abuse to be safe and take back control of their lives and those who have committed crime or at risk of offending to lead safe and crime-free lives, break the cycle of offending and keep families together.
Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, violence-free and equal lives, so that they can flourish and actively contribute to the community.
- Based in London, since its inception Advance has led the way in innovation in the criminal justice sector with community, “through-the-gate” and whole-system co-located services.
- Through its women’s centres and advocates, Advance delivers holistic, specialist one-to-one support and engaging group interventions, tailored to women’s needs.
- Advance evokes change by working within the system, engaging with professionals through advocacy and training to improve outcomes for women and girls across London and as part of national projects.