The Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation Strategy brings significant change. We must advocate for mothers in the criminal justice system – and the dedicated women’s services that support them
Women in the criminal justice system are widely recognised as being some of the most vulnerable in society; they often suffer poor physical and mental health and substance misuse, large numbers have endured violent or sexual abuse or had chaotic childhoods and a significant number have been in care.
Those working with women in the criminal justice system are worried that the criminal justice system was designed by men for men and does not meet the needs of the women who find themselves caught up in it. It was in response to these concerns that women’s centres were developed across the country and it is these centres that have provided an excellent vehicle for delivering Re-Unite – offering as they do a ‘one stop shop’ to support women with their issues around substance use, finances, health, employment and family.
The Ministry of Justice is in the process of radically reforming the criminal justice system, particularly rehabilitation, and the landscape of services is consequently changing. In many areas women’s centres are closing, to be replaced by virtual ‘hubs’ that will offer support to women on a payment by results basis.
These changes naturally represent some challenges and some opportunities for the Re-Unite programme and Commonweal is staying abreast of developments. Commonweal’s key aim is that the new commissioning bodies should require all those organisations who win the criminal justice contracts to offer the Re-Unite programme to women who are mothers.
Commonweal will be partnering with organisations who are willing and able to adapt to meet the changing landscape and we are committed to supporting the women’s centres which have, and continue to, play an inspirational role in delivering a successful Re-Unite programme.
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