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UK: Equal but Different? An Inspection of the Use of Alternatives to Custody for Women

14th October 2011

The report, entitled 'Equal but Different?'  highlights the difference between male and female offending and the need for probation officers to approach female offenders differently. It praises the work of the women-only community centers in the UK, acknowledging that although there is still a significant lack of women specific programmes in operation, where they are in place they offer "credible and sustainable alternatives to custody". 

However, there remains a high number of women in custody in the UK due to breaching a community order or the terms of their release licence, with figures indicating this could account for up to 25% of all new female prisoners. In many of these cases, it is unlikely that the original offence would have attracted a custodial sentence. The report recognises this an an issue which must be addressed to reduce the number of female offenders in custody.

The report goes on to make several recommendations to encourage the use of non-custodial sentences for female offenders and reduce re-offending among this group of offenders.

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