Funding boost to help women offenders turn their lives around

Brighton Women’s Centre has secured funding from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to support a new project that is helping women offenders turn their backs on a life of crime.

The organisation received a £30,000 grant from the MoJ which match-funded a previous grant from the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, (PCC) Katy Bourne. 

Commenting on the success of their bid, Lisa Dando, Director, Brighton Women’s Centre, said: “Brighton Women’s Centre is thrilled to have received funding and endorsement from the PCC and the MoJ for the work we do with women with multiple and complex vulnerabilities across Sussex. This funding will ensure that through our Inspire project we can reach more women at risk of entering the criminal justice service across the county. Thus ensuring their needs are met early on to avoid a pathway into crime.”

Mrs Bourne said: “I am delighted that the MoJ has recognised the important work of Brighton Women’s Centre which operates across Brighton, Hove and Sussex providing services to vulnerable female offenders through their Inspire project.

“The Inspire project has received £40,000 from my Enhanced Victims’ Fund which combined with the MoJ monies means that they will now be able to expand their unique service across the county.

Funding will enable Inspire to provide experienced Women’s Support Workers in police custody suites across Sussex. They will be offering tailored support to female offenders, who may have multiple vulnerabilities and are often unknown to all the support agencies. More women will now be able to access support services in their community to address underlying issues that can help them avoid offending in the first place and prevent them from going on to reoffend.

Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage, said: “I am determined to see fewer women falling into crime and even ending up in prison because they aren’t getting the right kind of support to address underlying issues. I am delighted that we will be working closely with the community of Brighton to help them develop new strategies to support women and off of a pathway into crime at an earlier stage.”

Mrs Bourne continued: “In 2014, more than 5,000 sentences were given to female offenders in Sussex. There are some real differences between male and female offenders: women are twice as likely to have experienced abuse in their childhood; committed their crime to support someone’s drug use; are living with mental health issues; commit acts of self-harm in prison and have children who are dependent on them. That is why it is vital to recognize what their particular needs are and reflect this in the support they are given to help them turn their lives around.”

Lisa Dando concluded: “For the year 2014/15, Inspire engaged with 351 women and of those, 90% successfully completed their Community Orders. Furthermore, in 2012, a sampled cohort of women offenders demonstrated that a year after engagement with Inspire, offending levels had reduced by 87.5%.

In addition to these outcomes, there is a strong financial case behind this work whereby a woman offender supported by Inspire costs £997 per year. The cost of a prison place is £56,415 (Prison Reform Trust).”

The other areas awarded MoJ funding are Greater Manchester, Norfolk and Surrey – a total of £191k.

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