criminal justice
health & social care
housing & housing services
local government

Women in the Criminal Justice System: Improving Support and Standards of Care

criminal justice

health & social care

housing & housing services

local government

08:45 - 16:25

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Central London

This crime event will provide attendees the opportunity to assess the latest developments in building a multi-agency, whole systems approach for creating a better system for women in the criminal justice and women at risk of entering the criminal justice system. Delegates will hear from sector leaders including Lord Michael Farmer, Public Health England, Centre for Women’s Justice, APPG for Women in the Penal System and Prison Reform Trust on the Lord Farmer Review, building effective health strategies for early intervention, delivering support during custody and after prison. Also, best-practice case studies will outline successful strategies for preventing women entering the criminal justice system, addresses the causes of this, as well as meeting the health needs of female offenders and providing support upon release.

This Forum is specifically designed to bring together the Criminal Justice Sector, Local Government, Voluntary Sector and Health Sector. Typical job titles include:

Criminal Justice System

  • Prison Governor
  • Prison Officer
  • Probation Officer
  • Policy Officer / Advisors (in Prisons)
  • Delivery Managers
  • Superintendents
  • Chief Superintendents
  • Chief Inspectors Neighbourhood Policing
  • Police Constable



  • Community Health and Well Being Officers
  • CEOs
  • Deputy Chief Executive
  • Support Workers
  • Project Managers


Local Authorities

  • Community Safety Managers
  • Community Development Officers
  • Service Delivery Managers
  • Team Leaders
  • Specialist Leads
  • Employment and Social Regeneration Managers
  • Community Relations Assistants



  • General Practitioners
  • District Nurses
  • Heads of Psychotherapy
  • Mental Health Leads

This Forum is also open to central government and the private sector to encourage discussion and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Sunita Stürup-Toft, Public Health Specialist- Health and Justice, Public Health England (PHE)
  • Lord Michael Farmer MP, Chair, Review into The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners’ Family Ties to Prevent Re-offending and Reduce Inter-generational Crime
  • Jenny Earle, Transforming Lives Programme Manager, Prison Reform Trust
  • Harriet Wistrich, Founding Director, Centre for Women’s Justice
  • Victoria Prentis, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in the Penal System
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to a report by the Prison Reform Trust in 2017, 53% of females in prison are reported to have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse during childhood and 60% of women in prison are a victim of domestic violence. Furthermore, it also found that there are now over 2,200 more women in prison in 2019 than there were 25 years ago.

With this in mind, the Government have developed a ’Female Offender Strategy for Women in The Criminal Justice System’ in 2018 and re-visited the report in 2019. Key government commitments in the strategy include a commitment to working with local and national partners to develop a pilot for ‘residential women’s centres’ in over 5 sites across England and Wales, reducing the number of women serving short custodial sentences and replacing Prison Service Order (PSO) 4800 with a Women’s Policy Framework. Furthermore, Lord Farmer released a review into ‘The Importance of Strengthening Female Offenders’ Family and other Relationships to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime’ in 2019. The key guidance from the review included the need for more use of Release on Temporary License to maintain family relationships, the need for women’s prisons to include permanent on-site social workers and increased access to information on key family relationships.

Public Health England (PHE) have also developed the ‘Gender Specific Standards to Improve Health and Wellbeing for Women in Prison in England’ in 2018. The standards set out evidence-based good practice in addressing the health and wellbeing needs of women in prison. The standards highlight key requirements around health and wellbeing, mental health, reducing substance misuse, violence and abuse and caring for females’ physical health and wider families. The document aims to help prisoners to adopt health behaviour patterns which can be utilised back in the community.

To reduce the number of females within, entering and leaving the criminal justice system, it is vital that the criminal justice system, local authorities, charities and other key providers come together to implement a whole-system approach. By doing so, they will drastically reduce the negative experiences of women in the criminal justice system and ultimately reduce the rate of re-offending females in society.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Cheshire Without Abuse will introduce the event and give a brief case study of the organisation’s experience on caring for women who have had a history of violence and abuse. The chief executive will outline the role that abuse has in connecting women in to the criminal justice system.

Saskia Lightburn-Ritchie, Chief Executive , Cheshire Without Abuse (CONFIRMED)

Part 1 – Preventing Women Entering the Criminal Justice System


Morning Keynote: Tackling Violence Against Women to Prevent Women from Entering Custody

  • Tackling a key root cause for women entering the criminal justice system including violence against women and girls (VAWG) by outlining key duties for the legal sector, the government and women’s charities
  • Demonstrating how workers in the criminal justice system can become more educated on VAWG, including by collaborating better with women’s charities
  • Highlighting CWJ’s progress in producing a network and link up service for women’s groups, lawyers, academics, government officials and other experts to help reduce the instance of VAWG and thus women entering custody
  • Analysing the CWJ’s innovative ‘theory for change’ which can be used by organisations more widely to map the need it is addressing, the changes it is hoping to achieve and the activities which are needed to achieve change

Harriet Wistrich, Founding Director, Centre for Women’s Justice (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Exploring Government Updates on Caring For Women At Risk of Entering the Criminal Justice System

  • Exploring results from the APPG’s 2019 Inquiry into the arrests of women, aimed at encouraging and enabling police forces to prevent women being drawn into the criminal justice system unnecessarily
  • Analysing good practice in reducing arrests of women and reviewing key findings from briefing produced in partnership with the Howard Trust, including ensuring that new police officers adopt a gender informed approach in their practice
  • Learning about the ‘knowledge gaps’ in the sentencing process including the information that magistrates often lack around the circumstances of women’s lives and the impact of prison
  • Assessing how we can make an impact through scrutinising the impacts of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda which will bring more women into the criminal justice system

Victoria Prentis, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in the Penal System (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Providing A Wrap-Around Support Service for Women to Prevent Entry into Custody and Re-Offending

  • Exploring the Southwark and Lewisham Women’s Hubs offering ​1:1 advocacy and support, monthly meals, workshops and activities and signposting for women before and after custody, leading to better local integration
  • Analysing the benefit of the hub which acts as a resourcing centre for women to ensure they can access all the information they need in one place rather than using and adapting to various different services
  • Demonstrating how other services can effectively join up with local law centres, wellbeing hubs and other services such as rape crisis support to ensure a diverse range of women and problems are considered post-release
  • Highlighting the key challenges for the centre, including funding for the centre to be open 5 days a week and exploring how Pecan are looking to increase funding opportunities

Chris Price, Chief Executive Officer, Pecan (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking

Part 2 – Caring for Women in Prison and During Custody


Special Keynote: Analysing Health Standards for Staff Working with Women Offenders

  • Exploring PHE’s ‘Gender Specific Standards to Improve Health and Wellbeing for Women in Prison in England’ outlining key standards for improving physical and mental health of women in custody
  • Highlighting recommendations on effective psychological therapies for women, including trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness and counselling
  • Indicating how prison staff can create closer relationships with health providers to provide better services
  • Dealing with substance misuse and victims of domestic abuse by ensuring that a peer support element exists to current programmes and that the behaviour of staff supports a person’s coping capacity
  • Ensuring women are physically active during custody by providing activity sessions to improve muscle strength for young offenders and reduce risk of falls for older offenders 2 days a week through techniques such as chair aerobics

Sunita Stürup-Toft, Public Health Specialist- Health and Justice, Public Health England (PHE) (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Demonstrating Excellence in Care for Women- A Specialist Women’s Prison Perspective

  • Analysing the key areas of excellence for the prison including effective support for women when they leave prison through improving employment skills and regular family contact, leading to a productive life on release
  • Highlighting the success of the prison on achieving feedback as a ‘safe and decent environment for the women in its care despite challenges faced’ by the Independent Monitoring Board
  • Learning how to be resilient upon the closure of Holloway leading to a sharp increase of women admissions, by ensuring the prison is providing more rehabilitation programmes and an open environment to facilitate relationships amongst new and existing prisoners
  • Analysing the key programmes for rehabilitation in the prison and highlighting the most successful health and learning initiatives
  • Exploring key challenges in the prison including bullying and assaults and exploring how these challenges are being overcome

Carl Hardwick, Governor, HMP and YOI Drake Hall (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Exploring the Effectiveness of Community-based Sentences for Female Offenders with Mental Healthcare Needs

  • Exploring community-based sentences in Northamptonshire and demonstrating how they have helped to reduce reoffending and mental health issues through treatment such as counselling at a women’s centre
  • Highlighting how the programme works, by identifying whether women are eligible for the programme, undergoing initial screening with a support worker to assess health needs and meeting regularly with probation officers to discuss future health solutions
  • Demonstrating the key outcomes of the programme which has led to a 95% success rate with only 4 of 75 women taking part in the pilot breaching their order and returning to court
  • Providing guidance for charities, local government and criminal justice agencies on how to establish a community sentence scheme by pooling resources and considering needs outside of mental health including employment and education, in order to provide a whole-system approach to care

Dr Sunil Lad, Clinical Lead , Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking

Part 3- Successfully Reintegrating Women Offenders into the Community


Afternoon Keynote: Maintaining Positive Family Relationships and Reducing Intergenerational Crime Post-release

  • Exploring Lord Farmer’s 2019 ‘Farmer Review’ into strengthening family relationships in order to prevent reoffending and reduce intergenerational crime
  • Analysing the key recommendations for the government on maintaining good family relationships post release including through use of Release on Temporary Licence to maintain family relationships
  • Highlighting the need for women’s prisons to include permanent on-site social workers and increased access to information on key family relationships to ensure relations are maintained
  • Discussing how social services and women’s centres can encourage women with children struggling with parenting to seek help, by directing them to Early Help or Family Hubs through referral from their services
  • Analysing the role of local supervision post-release, and outlining the need to move away from a 12-month supervision period since it provides difficulties for women who are also trying to fulfil family responsibilities

Lord Michael Farmer MP, Chair, Review into The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners’ Family Ties to Prevent Re-offending and Reduce Inter-generational Crime (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: The Role of Local Authorities in Supporting Women with Multiple Needs Post-Release

  • Discussing the ‘Leading Change: The Role Of Local Authorities In Supporting Women With Multiple Needs’ which sets out the case for change to cater for women post-release
  • Demonstrating how local authorities can collaborate to re-integrate women into the community through community safety partnerships, a multi-agency approach to re-integration providing mental health, social services and housing advice
  • Exploring how local authorities can help women with mental health issues post-offence through a national prevention concordat programme which includes a housing, support services and drug dependency plan, to be supported by a council’s Health and Wellbeing Board
  • Outlining the key strategy for local authorities who have a low budget to invest in women post-offence by aligning and pooling budget from different streams of funding, for instance by approaching local health and social care commissioners

Jenny Earle, Transforming Lives Programme Manager, Prison Reform Trust (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Panel & Delegate Discussion: Re-integrating Women Back into the Community Through a Multi-Agency Approach

Gain insights from leading experts as they debate how local authorities, housing associations and the voluntary sector can best work to drastically improve provision for women as they re-enter the community after prison and in turn help to reduce female rates of re-offending.

Delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the front-line challenges and solutions to achieving successful re-integration of women into the community, including securing housing, creating closer family ties and counselling with the panel and audience.

Lord Michael Farmer MP, Chair, Review into The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners’ Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime (CONFIRMED)

Jenny Earle, Transforming Lives Programme Manager, Prison Reform Trust (CONFIRMED)

Zaiba Qureshi, Chief Executive, Housing For Women (CONFIRMED)

Lisa Dando, Director, Brighton Women’s Centre (CONFIRMED)


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Providing a One-stop Shop for Women Rebuilding Their Lives After Leaving Custody

  • Exploring the ‘DAWN Project’, a one-stop service for women who are or have been in the criminal justice system, providing 1:1 mentoring and tailored interventions
  • Learning about the progress of the project, with reference to key success stories, which has led to the re-integratIon of women into society through mentoring, education and employment
  • Analysing the key materials and relationships which led to the success of the centre, including how the centre secured a share of the £1.6 million awarded by the government to support vulnerable women
  • Learning about the key challenges for the centre and how these have been overcome
  • Exploring the progress of the Street Sex Worker project in Peterborough, including key challenges and how these have been mitigated

Stef Martinsen-Barker, Chief Executive Officer, Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Reducing Re-offending by Addressing the Root-Causes of Offending

  • Exploring the organisation’s ‘Together Women Project’, a one stop centre of support for female offenders with multiple complex needs including through 1-2-1 intensive support
  • Analysing the success of the project which estimates that over £6 is saved for every £1 spent on the Together Women Project, with around £16 of wider economic value created for every £1 spent
  • Demonstrating how the project contributes to the whole-system approach to reducing re-offending by supporting women to break free from the cycle of offending behaviour by providing advice on domestic abuse, wellbeing, mental health, housing and debt
  • Highlighting how charities can successfully create relationships with local employers in order to provide women in the community with employment opportunities by teaching key skills

Maggie Langhorn, Operations Manager (Adults), Together Women Project (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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