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Addressing Women Offenders in Northern Ireland

14th January 2010

The University of Ulster Review for the Northern Ireland Office has outlined that a replacement women’s prison and health and social care is needed. In Northern Ireland 35 women are in prison. The Northern Ireland Office describes how many are coping with multiple problems including mental illness and abuse problems.

 ‘Addressing Offending by Women’ was carried out by Dr. Una Covery. The study outlined that a financial commitment is necessary to enable research, along with measures to divert women away from offending, the provision of community based services and a separate women’s prison to replace Ash House. Other areas needing further attention include affordable accomodation, childcare support, education and training and the tackling of poverty.

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins argued that too many women are ending up in prison. He claims that there needs to be constructive alternatives to dealing with female offenders. Minister Paul Goggins has recently opened the Inspire Women’s Project. The Inspire Women’s Project is an element of the Strategy for the Management of Women Offenders. The project is managed by Probation Board of Northern Ireland. This is the first programme established in Northern Ireland which a range of programmes are provided to meet the individual needs of female offenders. The project integrates the criminal justice sector with the community and voluntary sector. 

The women who participate on the Inspire Project will be drawn from those on community supervision and those currently in custody who are eligible for day release.

The programmes provided will include developing literacy skills, dealing with stress management, alcohol management programmes, anger management programmes and NIACRO will give personal financial assistance. The objective of these programmes is to help women integrate back into communities and reintegrate them back into communities.

For more information please click on the following links

http://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/national-news/funding-call-for-female-offenders-2012276.html and http://www.nio.gov.uk/goggins-opens-the-inspire-womens-project/media-detail.htm?newsID=16384.

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