On 14th June 2022, the Ministry of Justice announced plans to end Friday prison releases for those with resettlement needs. This move to end Friday releases is part of ongoing reforms to reduce reoffending and protect the public, including a new £25m prison security boost.
Nottingham Women’s Centre would like to emphasise the role of gender in assessing the vulnerability and needs of women leaving prison. Women face frightening levels of sexual harassment; abuse and violence on the streets; severe and multiple disadvantages; intersectional inequality; and a home environment could be a risk to their safety.
We’re grateful to Nacro, partner organisations, those in Parliament and supporters of the campaign who made this change happen.
To work with the government and support the smooth implementation of this legislation though, Nottingham Women’s Centre would like to emphasise the role of gender in assessing the vulnerability and needs of women leaving prison.[i]
In a seminal report by Baroness Corston, A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System, it was highlighted that the risk factors that lead to vulnerability, the commission of crime and reoffending vary for men and women. Women are at a greater risk of mental health concerns than men and their experiences of homelessness vary from men’s.
In assessing the circumstances and vulnerability of individual women for eligibility to be released before their Friday release date, we therefore recommend the adoption of a gender specific, inclusive, trauma-informed and rights-based approach.
To ensure women’s safety and that their needs are visible in service delivery and provision, it is important to note the following evidence:
- Women face frightening levels of sexual harassment, abuse and violence on the streets.
- Women face severe and multiple disadvantages – it is vital to recognise that disadvantage is inherent in social relations and therefore demands social and political solutions.[ii]
- Intersectionality – Gender is only one dimension to examine inequality. An increasing number of women suffer disadvantage from an intersection of two or more categories under the legally protected characteristics. [iii]
- The home environment could be a risk to women’s safety. Being homeless also means being vulnerably housed, especially where a person will face a risk of harm or injury in their home environment.[iv]
According to Charlie Taylor, Chief Inspector of Prisons, failing to ensure women have suitable accommodation plays a key role in the cycle of reoffending. He said:
“Without stable, safe accommodation many women are liable to have mental health relapses, return to substance misuse and become involved in crime on release, creating more victims and, at great cost to the taxpayer, repeating the cycle and undoing the good work of the prison.”
[i] According to Ministry of Justice statistics, 12.8 per cent of women who were released from prison ended up either homeless or rough sleeping in the year 2020/21, compared with just 11.8 per cent of men. See report by The LankellyChase Foundation Women and girls facing severe and multiple disadvantage (2016) .
[ii] (Duncan and Corner, 2012) pg 3
[iii] Rebecca Sycamore, St Mungo’s Executive Director of Development)
Links to further reading
- The Government’s statement
- How does homelessness differ for women? via The Big Issue
- Women more likely to become homeless after prison than men via iNews
- Prioity needs in homeless applications via Shelter
- Vulnerability in homelessness cases
Image credit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/end-to-friday-releases-to-cut-crime-and-make-streets-safer