Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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Women and the criminal justice system summary

Women and the criminal justice system summary:

  • Women are a small minority of defendants who come before the courts; it is helpful, therefore, for magistrates to be aware of the particular needs of women in the criminal justice system as these may be relevant to the individual before you.
  • Women’s offending is often linked to the abusive and coercive relationships in which they have become trapped, to histories of trauma and abuse, or time spent in care as children.
  • Women are much more likely than men to be the sole or primary carer of children; therefore, the impact on children of sentencing should be considered.
  • There is evidence that specialist women’s centres and services are particularly effective in helping women address their problems, reduce their reoffending and turn their lives around.
  • Women are more likely than men to successfully complete a community order or licence supervision order.
  • Prison is seldom a place of safety for individuals with multiple and complex needs.

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