Today the Prison Reform Trust in the UK launched a YouGov opinion poll of 1552 people across Britain.which appears to demonstrate strong support for the use of health measures as an effective way to tackle women’s offending. The three most popular solutions for reducing offending by women who commit non-violent crimes were treatment for drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and mental health issues.
Encouragingly, imprisonment only featured as the seventh most popular way of effectively addressing offending among women, only being supported by 52% of those surveyed.
The launch of the poll results coincides with the PRT’s launch of its own three year strategy to reduce unnecessary imprisonment of women in the UK.
The main aims of the strategy are to:
- Reduce the number of women entering prison on remand – Currently, 70% of women who enter prison in the UK do so on remand.
- Reduce the number of women imprisoned for breaching community orders
- Reduce offending by women – Currently around 51% of women who leave prison are reconvicted within one year, and for those serving sentences of less than 12 months this increases to 62%.
- Reduce the number of women in prison with serious mental health problems – The PRT says that 30% of women in custody have had a psychiatric admission prior to entering prison, and although women only account for 5% of the overall prison population, they are responsible for 31% of all self harm incidents.
- Reduce the number of women in prison with drug and alcohol problems – approximately 70% of women entering British prisons require clinical detoxification.
- Reduce the number of women in prison with dependent children – The PRT states that over 17,000 children were separated from their mother by imprisonment in 2010.
- Reduce the number of foreign national women in prison – Currently, 15% of women in British prisons are foreign nationals.
Details of the poll may be found here.
Read the strategy here.