Press release

Four local areas win funding to help more women turn away from crime

The Ministry of Justice and Government Equalities Office have announced the 4 areas to be funded to pilot new approaches to helping women at risk of offending.

Greater Manchester, Brighton, Norfolk, Surrey have together been awarded almost £200,000 to help more women in their communities address the underlying issues which left unchecked may lead to them becoming involved in crime, or even ultimately end up in prison.

There are currently around 4000 women in prison. Women are much more likely to serve short sentences, have committed acquisitive rather than violent crimes, have dependent children and commit acts of self-harm in prison.

Many women at risk of offending have complex needs – they may have faced abuse in the past, have drug or alcohol issues, face serious mental or physical health problems, or be struggling to find a home or a job.

Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage, said:

I am determined to see fewer women falling into crime and even ending up in prison because they aren’t getting the right kind of support to address any underlying issues.

I am delighted that we will be working closely with the communities of Greater Manchester, Brighton, Norfolk and Surrey to develop new strategies to support women and get them off a pathway into crime at an earlier stage.

Not only will this funding change the lives of more women and their families and give them a second chance to realise their potential, it will also cut crime and make our streets safer.

The money will be used in these communities to put structures in place to assess and address the needs of these women at an early stage and provide the kind of wraparound support that can make all the difference in diverting them from crime.

The 4 areas will develop their own unique strategies which are best targeted to address the needs of women in their areas, working across local public and third sector organisations.

The lessons learned from the approaches taken in these areas will be used to help other local areas around the country develop similar approaches to reduce the number of women offending and reoffending.

Notes for editors

16 applications were judged and Greater Manchester, Brighton, Norfolk and Surrey won a total of £191,752 funding from the Government Equalities Office. The following individual amounts were allocated:

Area Amount
Norfolk £85,976
Surrey £49,124
Brighton and Sussex £30,000
Greater Manchester £24,900

A further £10,000 was awarded to Wales to conduct research into the sentencing of female offenders in the area, to support further work to look at alternatives to custody where appropriate.

Women in prison: There are currently around 4000 women in prison – a small fraction when compared with the number of men. But there are some real differences between male and female offenders – we know women are twice as likely to:

  • twice as likely to report experiencing abuse in their childhood
  • two and a half times as likely to report needing help with mental health issues

They are also much more likely to serve short sentences, have committed acquisitive rather than violent crimes, have dependent children and commit acts of self-harm in prison.

Numbers of women involved in the Criminal Justice System in these areas in 2014

Area Cautions a PNDs Prosecutions at magistrates courts b Sentences given (at magistrates and crown courts) Community Sentences Suspended sentences Custodial Sentences
England and Wales total 30270 14946 354885 302157 15488 8221 7419
G/Manchester 1162 412 23621 19882 1006 530 446
Norfolk 617 203 4601 3917 171 121 86
Surrey 402 238 4173 3383 168 115 90
Sussex 824 352 6407 5285 320 200 131

a) Caution and PND figures have been calculated from data available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2014, Cautions by police force areas (CSV); and PNDs by police force area (CSV).

b) Prosecution and sentencing figures have been calculated from data available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2014, Courts by Criminal Justice Area (CSV). These figures include both criminal and civil cases.

Further information

For further information please call the MOJ press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us on Twitter @MoJGovUK.