A safe, just and equal world for women

Women and criminal justice

Women caught in the criminal justice, as a result of having committed an offence, also often experience trauma themselves. More than half of the women in contact with the criminal justice system reported domestic abuse, highlighting the link between domestic abuse and offending behaviour. 

As a result of being sentenced, women are impacted by the stigma of offending, as well as needing support for issues relating to housing, finances, physical and mental health, substance misuse, children and families, and employment. Women are more often than not the primary care-givers and when in custody, even for short periods, the impact on the children and families can be significant and long-term.

Facts about women in the criminal justice system:

53% of women in prison report having experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse as a child compared to 22% of men.

77% of the prison sentences given to women in 2018 were for less than 12 months

82% of the prison sentences given to women in 2018 were for non-violent offences.

57% of women in prison and under community supervision report being victims of domestic abuse. The true figure is likely higher, as many women fear disclosing abuse.

50% of women, compared to 22% of men, have reported that they offended to support someone else’s drug use.

Our goal is to divert women from the Criminal Justice System at the earliest opportunity and as a result reduce re-offending, reduce the number of custodial sentences imposed by the Courts and prevent families breaking down as a result.

We believe that the criminal justice service is built by men, for men, so it is important that a safe, woman-only option like the Minerva service is available.

Our Minerva programme continues to develop and expand its services available to women and young women from 15 years old of all levels of risk and need nationally, reaching out to thousands of women and young women with sentences in custody or in the community.


Our confidentiality policy states that we will not discuss your case with any other agency without your permission. However, if there are concerns relating to Child Protection issues or if you are at serious risk of harm, we would need to disclose this information to the relevant agencies to help safeguard yourself and your children.

We will only share information that is necessary and will do so in a respectful and safe way.