Revolving Doors Agency, a charity working across England to change systems and improve services for people with multiple problems who are in repeat contact with the criminal justice system, has launched a new report, 'Counting the Cost', on the financial impact of supporting women with multiple needs in the criminal justice system.
The report focuses on findings from their women-specific Financial Analysis Model, and shows that an investment of £18 million per year in women’s centres could save almost £1 billion over five years. This Financial Analysis Model is based on the idea that individuals in contact with the criminal justice system go through different distinct stages or situations, which are characterised by different patterns of service use. The model identifies nine different stages typically experienced by women with multiple needs in contact with the criminal justice system. The cost of each stage is calculated by establishing the cost and likelihood of each service contact. The report considers 14 different types of service contact, including arrest, court, prison, probation, ambulance, methadone prescribing, housing support, benefits and children being taken into local authority care.
It shows that the likely total cost of contact with these services is dramatically higher when women are living chaotic lives characterised by substance misuse and crime. The costs to the criminal justice system are particularly high. The report shows that when women do not receive support to address the underlying causes of this chaos and crime, they are likely to continue costly patterns of service use resulting in a quickly escalating bill to the public purse.
However, when women successfully move away from these patterns of chaos, crime and repeat prison sentences, the costs can fall dramatically. The report estimates that an investment of £18 million per year would provide gender-specific support to more than 13,000 women across the country. Without support, these women would be likely to cost public services more than £2 billion over five years. The report explains that investment in women’s services could halve this cost.