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Today's report (24 July 2017) from the London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee calls for vulnerable women offenders to be given support to address underlying issues driving their offending.
For many years, St Giles Trust has worked with women in the criminal justice system, offering them the support and services they need to stabilise and progress their lives. There is a clear need for services in this area demonstrated by the high level of demand for St Giles Trust’s Footsteps project which supports vulnerable prison leavers returning to London.
Nicky Park, Head of Prisons and Women’s Lead at St Giles Trust, said:
“St Giles Trust welcomes this report and the recommendations within it. We are pleased that the report recommends diverting women away from custodial sentences towards community provision. In order for this approach to work, quality outreach support needs to be in place as women have higher levels of need, requiring intensive work.
Of equal importance is the need for effective ‘through the gates’ services offering support to women pre and post release. Support such as that offered through the Footsteps Project has proved highly effective in reaching women at a critical point when they are highly receptive to offers of help.
We would recommend that the right staff need to be in place to work with women who are highly vulnerable. St Giles Trust’s approach is to use professionally trained former service users and this has proved to be a key strength to all of our work. Women with direct experience of prison helped to shape the Footsteps project as they knew better than anyone what type of service would work. Furthermore, as caseworkers they are extremely positive role models who can inspire change in
the most disengaged women.”