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Justice Secretary announces new female offender funding at Women’s Aid speech

Justice Secretary David Gauke announced in a speech at Women’s Aid that community services supporting vulnerable women have been awarded £1.6 million funding, as part of the Government’s commitment to reduce the number of women entering the criminal justice system.

  • £1.6 million for 18 projects – including support for domestic abuse victims
  • Recipients are located across England and Wales and include the creation of a new Women’s Centre in York as well as the expansion of existing services

The money will benefit 17 different services and 83 female rape support centres.

It includes support for the creation of a Women’s Centre in York which will offer family-friendly services, including crèche facilities, to women at risk of being affected by issues such as repeat offending, mental health problems and homelessness. Almost 60% of female offenders have experienced domestic abuse and this centre, as well as several of the other organisations awarded funding, works with victims of domestic abuse.

Secretary of State David Gauke announced the funding in a speech at Women’s Aid, where he reaffirmed his commitment to tackling domestic abuse following this week’s landmark Domestic Abuse Bill.

Secretary of State David Gauke, said:

“I am delighted to announce the allocation of this funding which will help divert women away from crime by providing and enhancing dedicated community services.

“A number of the organisations receiving money will provide entirely new services, while other existing schemes will be extended. All will seek to break the cycle of reoffending and support vulnerable women in the community.

“We recognise that many women in the criminal justice system are victims of domestic and sexual abuse themselves and are confident this investment in specialist services will benefit those women as well as wider society.”

While serious crimes will always be punished, female offenders are amongst some of the most vulnerable people in society. Many face issues with substance misuse and mental health problems, and face difficulty finding housing, often as a result of repeated abuse and trauma.

Domestic abuse in particular can play a major part in female offending and that abuse can take different forms, including coercive and controlling behaviour. Several of the organisations awarded grants today work specifically with victims of domestic abuse and women who are at risk of abuse.

These include Cheshire without Abuse, which will use its funding allocation to provide an extended service at its women’s centre in Crewe on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Women who attend the centre have identified these as the times they are most in need of support for mental health crisis.

The new money will also allow for specialist one-to-one domestic abuse support in the East Midlands, including therapy programmes and counselling services aimed at improving self-esteem.

Funding will also be provided to 83 rape support centres, recognising that many female offenders are also victims of sexual violence. These centres will be encouraged to improve their links with women’s centres and similar organisations to ensure more women are receiving the support they require.

As with the first wave of allocations, each project will be evaluated to measure its success so that any relevant learning can be applied to other vulnerable women across the criminal justice system.

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