Strategies to Decrease Women's Involvement in Criminal Justice Services

Evelyn Woodland
January 24, 2024

The pursuit of a more equitable and rehabilitative criminal justice system demands proactive measures to address the root causes of female offending. This blog delves into key strategies outlined in the Female Offender Strategy Report (2018) aimed at diminishing women's involvement in criminal justice services. By intervening earlier, diverting offenders appropriately, and fostering collaborative approaches, we can collectively contribute to breaking the cycle of female incarceration.

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Intervening Earlier: Addressing Vulnerabilities

The Female Offender Strategy advocates for early intervention to tackle vulnerabilities that may lead to offending. Allocating funds to community provision and domestic abuse services for women emerges as a pivotal strategy. By bolstering these resources, society can address underlying issues and provide essential support, mitigating the risk of women entering the criminal justice system.

Diverting Offenders: Preventing Recidivism

Effective diversionary tactics play a crucial role in preventing reoffending and reducing the burden on the criminal justice system. The report underscores various approaches to diverting offenders, including optimising Liaison & Diversion schemes. These schemes act as gateways to support and rehabilitation, identifying and addressing underlying needs rather than defaulting to punitive measures.

Supporting the police to work with vulnerable women is another vital aspect of diversion. Enhancing law enforcement's capacity to engage empathetically and collaboratively with vulnerable women fosters a more compassionate approach, recognising the intersectionality of their experiences.

Improving Use of Out of Court Disposals and Working with Non-Police Prosecutors

The strategy emphasises the need to enhance the utilisation of Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs). These disposals provide an opportunity for resolution outside the formal courtroom setting, steering away from unnecessary escalation. By refining the application and effectiveness of OOCDs, the criminal justice system can better align with rehabilitative goals, particularly for non-violent and low-risk offences.

Collaboration extends beyond law enforcement to involve non-police prosecutors. By engaging a broader spectrum of legal professionals, the criminal justice system becomes more versatile and responsive. Non-police prosecutors bring diverse perspectives and expertise, contributing to a more nuanced and holistic approach to addressing female offending.

Promoting Retail-Based Diversion

An innovative approach outlined in the report involves promoting Retail-Based Diversion. This recognises the potential for rehabilitation within retail settings and explores alternatives to criminalisation for certain offences. By diverting individuals towards community-based interventions, such as counselling or educational programmes, Retail-Based Diversion aligns with the overarching goal of breaking the cycle of female involvement in criminal justice services.

In conclusion, breaking the cycle of women's involvement in criminal justice services demands a multifaceted and collaborative effort. The strategies outlined in the Female Offender Strategy Report provide a roadmap for intervention, diversion, and a more compassionate approach to justice. By investing in community provision, optimising diversion schemes, and promoting collaborative practices, we can collectively contribute to a criminal justice system that aims not only to punish but also to rehabilitate, ultimately breaking the cycle for women involved in offending.