Today (May 20th), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) released the details of their new Residential Women’s Centres (RWCs) for female offenders. The centres are meant to offer an alternative to prison for women who need support with complex needs, such as trauma, and poor mental health or problematic substance use.
We welcomed the opportunity to feed into the design of RWCs through consultations between our Women’s Forum and the MoJ’s Female Offender and Offender Health Team. Our members strongly advocated for the importance of trauma-informed approaches and the role of lived experience into staffing. It is encouraging to see the MoJ recognise that non-carceral environments are more appropriate for women with complex needs, and diverting them into support is essential to prevent reoffending.
While this new initiative is a constructive step away from a traditional prison setting, it remains custodial in essence. We are concerned that custodial settings continue to be prioritised over holistic community solutions for non-violent offences. To address the root causes of offending, well-resourced support is required within the community to prevent women even having to go through custody stage.