Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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17. Women in the criminal justice system - Film Clip

The Prison Reform Trust has long called for a reduction in women’s imprisonment and a step change in how the criminal justice system responds to women.

Reducing women’s imprisonment

In October 2015 the Prison Reform Trust started a three year UK-wide programme to reduce women’s imprisonment, with support from the Big Lottery Fund and in partnership with Families Outside (Scotland), Soroptimist International (UK), User Voice Women’s Councils, and KeyRing Living Support Networks.

The programme, Transforming Lives, has a strong emphasis on local practice and engaging with local statutory and voluntary sector services, as well as working with Government to identify and tackle drivers to women’s imprisonment and foster greater use of early intervention and community responses.

This section, Women and the criminal justice system, is from a briefing paper by the Prison Reform Trust Why focus on reducing women’s imprisonment? (2016), ; and references are included in that paper. Further information about Transforming Lives, and a range of briefings, publications and resource materials, is available on our website

Since the Transforming Lives programme began on 1 October 2015, there has been a welcome 4% decrease in the number of women received into prison and a 17% fall in the number of women remanded into prison. The challenge remains, however, to ensure that women receive timely and appropriate support so that custody is used only as a last resort.

Women in the Criminal Justice System

Film clip 14 (07:40 mins)

Jenny Earle, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s Transforming Lives programme, talks about the importance of responding to the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system. Three women – Liz, Karen and Kim – talk about their experiences; and Salma Ali, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, describes how liaison and diversion services help to recognize women’s needs, and how referrals into local services and timely interventions can make a positive difference (for further information about liaison and diversion services, see Section 13).”

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